Taxation and customs union

EU Customs Union – unique in the world

The EU Customs Union is a unique example of an area where a number of countries apply a uniform system for handling goods (imported, exported and transiting) and implement a common set of rules (the Union Customs Code).

The EU Customs Union is managed on the ground by 28 national customs services acting as if they were one. The European Commission proposes EU customs legislation and monitors its implementation.

There are no customs duties at the EU Customs Union’s internal borders. All goods circulate freely within the EU Customs Union, whether they are made in the EU or imported from outside.


The EU is one of the largest traders in the world.

In 2014 the value of the entire world trade amounted to € 21.5 trillion [trillion = 1 x 1012]. The EU is one of the main players in the global arena, concerning trade and supply chain logistics, alongside the United States and China, having a share of 16% in the world total trade.


Source: Eurostat


In 2015 the value of EU trade with other countries amounted to € 3.5 trillion (€ 1.73 trillion for imports and € 1.79 trillion for exports). This is more than the total yearly retail sales in the EU!

The main EU trade partners were the United States, China, Switzerland and Russia.
During 2015, almost 293 million customs declarations were handled by more than 2 000 EU customs offices working 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.


Source: Eurostat and DG Taxation and Customs Union


Various means of carrying freight are used in EU trade

The most frequently used form of transport in EU trade is maritime followed by air and road transport. These figures are based on value in 2015.


Source: Eurostat