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What is Customs 2013 ?

Introduction to the Customs 2013 programme

Customs 2013 is a programme which gives the national customs administrations of the EU, together with the European Commission, the opportunity to co-operate in areas of common and high interest. It runs from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2013 and provides a legal and financial base for

  • Reinforcing security and safety within the Community and at the external border;
  • Strengthening the fight against fraud and protecting the financial and economic interests of the Community and Member States;
  • Increasing the competitiveness of European business by speeding up customs procedures partially through the creation of a European paperless electronic customs environment.

Over the six years' lifespan of the programme the budget is 324 million euro. Candidate countries for accession to the European Union (EU) can participate in the programme, as well as potential candidate countries. Under specific conditions, countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy can also request the participation in the programme.

Customs 2013 uses a range of tools such as the development and maintenance of the Community component of IT systems, working visits of officials, seminars, benchmarking, workshops, monitoring actions and project groups to achieve its objectives. It builds on existing activities, including the development of the e-learning components of the blended learning method to contribute to the common training initiatives.

Customs 2013 is designed to help to facilitate trade and to combat fraud so as to safeguard the financial and security interests of the Community and its citizens. A new factor which is becoming increasingly important is taking into account the changing role of customs with regard to new policies such as safety and security, including health and environmental protection, protection of the EU citizens. Through the programme, the national customs administrations work together to find appropriate answers to the following challenges:

Protection of financial and economic Community interests

Customs have an important role to play to combat fraud and criminal activities. This requires expertise, sound legislation and effective tools. From an EU point of view, the protection of Community interests also requires good co-operation and mechanisms for the exchange of information. The programme can contribute to these objectives

  • by identifying specific areas of difficulty in the legislation and the control mechanisms,
  • by exploring solutions to these difficulties and
  • by improving the co-operation between customs administrations and between them and other authorities. In doing so, the aim is for equivalent high level quality control at every point of the customs territory.

Trade facilitation and co-operation

The EU has to be a strong economic and trade partner in the world economy. Customs have an important role to play to ensure the competitiveness of the European trade environment. The increased trade volume crossing the borders, the complexity of the modern supply chain, the number of parties involved and the speed with which goods are exchanged today make the work of Customs administrations more complex. Trade facilitation aims at minimising the burden placed on trade in relation to customs legislation and procedures. The application of a new Modernised customs code and the implementation of a paperless customs environment should contribute to this broad objective of trade facilitation. In doing so, there should be a balance between trade facilitation and the protection of the EU against illicit traffic.

Overall strategic and general support

Customs in the Community operate under a common legal framework based on common application provisions and a common customs tariff. Whilst the legal framework is well established, its implementation currently depends on individual national administrations with differing national responsibilities who are called upon to act "as if they were one" when applying Community customs law. This programme will continue the work of Customs 2007 with a view to promoting the equivalent operational capacity of customs administrations including IT architectures, working methods and common training provisions.

Strengthening security and safety

The operating environment and the role of Customs are continuously evolving. Customs continues to play a key role in the collection of customs duties and the application of tariffs. However, the current Customs work is increasingly linked to the security of the Community and in particular with securing the external border, the prevention of money laundering and trade in counterfeit goods.

Customs has a role in protecting the EU from entry of goods that might endanger the safety or health of the European citizen. Customs have to deal with an ever larger number of control issues, involving environmental, health protection and security issues. It concerns for instance the trade in drug precursors, checking of radiation levels, and importation of prohibited foodstuffs. Customs is developing a rapid information system to advise all Customs offices of potential high risk cargo.

Enlargement, integration of new Member States and relations with third countries

The prospect of enlargement with new Member States having to execute the same extensive range of tasks, merely serves to emphasise the importance of ensuring not only that customs work effectively in today's Community but that they also prepare for their colleagues to act effectively in an enlarged community. The Programme also supports and assists in improving the efficiency of Customs administrations of third countries and in particular the Western Balkans and the partner countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy, in particular in the framework of the reinforcement of the security and external border policy.

Information on Customs 2007 is available here.