The EU Customs Union is a unique example of an area where a number of countries apply a uniform system for handling the import, export and transit of goods and implement a common set of rules called the Union Customs Code (UCC).
A uniform system of customs duties is being used on imports from outside the EU and there are no customs duties at the borders between the EU countries.
Duty on goods from the outside of the EU is generally paid when they first enter, but after that, there is nothing more to pay, no more checks and all goods move freely within the EU Customs Union.
In practice, the EU Customs Union is managed by 28 national customs services acting as one. The European Commission proposes the EU customs legislation and monitors its implementation.
In 2015, the value of the entire world trade amounted to EUR 23 trillion.
The EU is one of the main players in the world when it comes to trade and supply chain logistics, alongside the United States and China, with a share of 15% in the total world trade.
In 2016, the value of the EU trade with other countries amounted to EUR 3.5 trillion (EUR 1.71 trillion for imports and EUR 1.75 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.
In 2016, almost 313 million customs declarations were handled by more than 2 000 EU customs offices, working 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
The most frequently used form of transport in the EU trade is maritime transport, followed by air and road transport.
Figures based on value in 2016
Source: European Commission, Eurostat