Taxation and Customs Union

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


Following the introduction of risk management in the EU's 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 (link: 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 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 Competitiveness Council of 4 December 2014 endorsed the Strategy and Action Plan and called on the Member States and on the Commission to implement them and to adopt a realistic and detailed roadmap.
  • On 19 July 2016, the Commission adopted a progress report and staff working document on the EU Strategy and Action Plan for Customs Risk Management.
  • On 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.
  • On 20 July 2018 the Commission adopted the second progress report and a Staff Working Document on the EU Strategy and Action plan.
    The report, in response to the Council Conclusions of December 2016, provides an overall qualitative assessment of the implementation of the EU strategy and action plan.
    It showed the significant progress made by all Member States and the Commission, especially in strengthening collaboration between all parties involved in Customs Risk Management as well as in launching new initiatives.
    More on the adoption of this second progress report can be read here.


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


a) 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)).

b) 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.

c) 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.

d) 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.

e) 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.

f) 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.

g) 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.