On 28 September, the European Commission launched a new Customs Union Action Plan, setting out a series of measures to make EU customs smarter, more innovative and more efficient.
The Action Plan proposes steps such as improved use of data, better tools and equipment, the promotion of compliance, more cooperation within the EU and with customs authorities of partner countries and better preparation for future crises.
The EU’s Customs Union has developed into a cornerstone of the Single Market, providing revenues for the EU budget, keeping EU borders safe and protecting our citizens from prohibited and dangerous goods such as weapons, drugs and products that are harmful for the environment. The Customs Union also facilitates trade with the rest of the world, which is vital to the prosperity of the EU.
EU customs authorities now manage a long and growing list of responsibilities at the EU’s borders. A modernised framework of customs legislation is in place since 2016 in the form of the Union Customs Code. To find out more about the latest progress in the management of the Customs Union, please read the 2nd Biennial Report on Governance of the Customs Union.
However, fraud linked to customs duties and VAT, as well as the smuggling of illicit or unsafe goods, have become major problems. Uneven customs control capabilities between Member States can lead to goods being diverted towards the weakest entry and exit points in the EU customs territory, to avoid detection. Moreover, new business models such as e-commerce have added to enforcement challenges faced by EU customs. At the same time, customs authorities need to be able to react better to changing or emergency circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Customs Action Plan therefore announces ways to address these challenges and take the Customs Union to the next level.
The 17 actions in the Customs Action Plan are grouped under four headings: risk management, managing e-commerce, promotion of compliance and customs authorities acting as one. Key initiatives under these four headings are:
For further information and the full list of 17 actions, please see the Communication including its Annex.
The Commission aims to adopt its proposal for a Single Window Environment for Customs towards the end of October.
In 2018, the Commission launched an innovative foresight project on “The Future of Customs in the EU 2040.” This aims to create a shared and strategic understanding of current and future challenges for customs, and a vision for how EU customs should look in 2040. The report by the Commission services on this exercise is due to be published at the end of October as well.
For more information