Since the creation of the Internal Market on 1 January 1993, the circulation and control of intra-community movements of excise goods in duty-suspension have only been allowed to take place between authorised economic operators. Those movements have had to be accompanied by a paper-based document - the Accompanying Administrative Document (AAD) - and a guarantee financially securing the movement, both of which being discharged only when the goods arrive at their destination. The system was put in place to monitor intra-community movements of excise goods in order to ensure payment of duty in the Member State where they are released for consumption, whilst at the same time respecting the principle of free movement of goods within the Internal Market. Before 1993, these movements were monitored through customs controls at the borders between Member States. Further information is available from the 'Common provisions section'.
Due to the high levels of fraud in the Member States and the corresponding loss of national revenues, especially in the field of tobacco and alcohol, the EU Council of Economic and Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) endorsed, on 19 May 1998, a High Level Group report recommending the setting up of a computerised trader-to-trader link via the national Member States administrations, which has now become known as EMCS.
In order to consider the implications of introducing such a wide and complex system, the Commission initiated a Feasibility Study conducted in 1999 and 2000, supplemented by an Addendum in 2003. The main conclusion of the Feasibility Study was that the computerisation and the replacement of the Administrative Accompanying Document (AAD) with an electronic messaging were feasible.
Decision No 1152/2003/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, dated 16 June 2003, laid down the legal basis for the development of EMCS.