Taxation and customs union

The priorities: EU Strategy and Action Plan for customs Risk Management


  • 6 December 2016  – Council Conclusions on the Progress Report on the implementation of the EU Strategy and Action Plan for customs risk management were adopted by the Council at its 3506th meeting held on 6 December 2016.

Risk Management Strategy and Action Plan


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Following the introduction of risk management in the EU legal framework in 2005 and its roll-out between 2009 and 2011, the European Commission evaluated the situation and on 21 August 2014 adopted a Communication on the EU Strategy and Action Plan for customs risk management: Tackling risks, strengthening supply chain security and facilitating trade (COM/2014/527). The Strategy and Action Plan annexed to the Communication proposes a set of step-by-step actions to reach more coherent, effective and cost-efficient EU customs risk management at the external borders.

The new strategy identifies the key priorities where action is needed in order to achieve more effective and efficient EU-wide customs risk management. Each of these priorities is then developed, in the accompanying action plan, in terms of actions to be taken and deliverables to be achieved. The Commission, Member States and economic operators all have important and clearly defined roles to play in ensuring the successful implementation of the new strategy.

The action plan sets out specific measures to achieve this, together with the actors responsible and clear deadlines for doing so. Robust risk management should allow customs to identify also where, when and how their controls are best deployed, and to respond effectively when threats do arise.



The main priorities in the strategy to improve customs risk management are:

Data quality

In order to ensure that customs have high-quality, timely information on goods entering and leaving the EU, adjustments are required to certain legal, procedural and IT systems. These adjustments should be implemented in a way which does not create undue costs for businesses or public authorities (e.g. to the IT systems that process entry summary declarations (ENS)).

risk strategy

Information sharing

To ensure customs authorities can effectively analyse and mitigate risks, mechanisms should be put in place to improve the availability of data and the sharing of risk-relevant information amongst customs authorities throughout the entire control process.

Efficient controls and risk-mitigation

Different types of risk require different responses. For example, the risk of a bomb or infectious disease needs to be dealt with before the shipment is even loaded for transportation in a third country, whereas financial misdemeanours can be addressed through post-clearance audits. To maximise the efficient use of resources, controls have to be performed at the right place and time in the supply chain, and information should be shared more effectively between customs authorities. This will help to avoid duplication of controls.

Capacity building

To ensure that all customs authorities implement risk management to a high standard across the EU, divergences between Member States should be identified and addressed. EU level support could be given to address weaknesses, including possible further capacities at EU and Member State level where needed, and cooperation between national customs authorities should be further enhanced.

Interagency cooperation

Customs has to work closely with other law enforcement authorities. Common risk criteria and improved information sharing would allow tackling supply chain risk enforced by the various authorities to support and complement each other's work.

Cooperation with traders

The partnership between customs and reliable traders should be further developed, including through the promotion of the EU Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) concept, and in particular through a broader recognition of the AEO standards by non-customs authorities.

International customs cooperation

The EU should remain active in creating global standards in international fora, and should work to implement and promote these common norms amongst international trading partners.

The Competitiveness Council of 4 December 2014 recognising that customs authorities are primarily responsible for the supervision of the Union's international trade (enhancing the security and safety of the EU, its Member States and its inhabitants, promoting the competitiveness of the EU and protecting the financial and economic interests of the EU and its Member States) endorsed the Strategy and Action Plan. The Council called on the Member States and on the Commission to implement them and to adopt a realistic and detailed roadmap.

Older news 

19 July 2016   - Commission adopts progress report and staff working document on EU Strategy and Action Plan for Customs Risk Management

The report provides an overall qualitative assessment of the implementation of the Strategy. According to the report, the reform of customs risk management adapted to today's reality of increased volume and speed of international trade is a resource-intensive exercise.  Although a large number of actions have been launched, progress has been uneven. It is most noticeable on actions which fall within the remit of customs despite the fact that insufficient financing to develop the required IT systems is a major issue. Progress has been slower for those actions requiring more cooperation between customs and other authorities. In view of today's risks to security, customs cooperation with other law enforcement and security authorities deserves more attention and needs to be brought forward.

The availability of resources to fully implement customs risk management as identified in the Strategy and Action Plan will require further in-depth consideration.