Taxation and Customs Union

The EU Single Window environment for customs

The Single Window (SW) is defined as a facility which allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information and documents with a single entry point to fulfill all import, export and transit-related regulatory requirements (cf. UNECE recommendation 33). If information is electronic, then individual data elements should be submitted only once.

The EU Single Window environment for customs is focused on customs formalities and involves stakeholders dealing with cross-border movement of goods.

The objective of the EU Single Window environment for customs is to enable economic operators to electronically lodge, and only once, all the information required by customs and non-customs legislation for EU cross-border movements of goods.

History of the project

Given the complex nature of this task and the extensive work it entails, a phased approach to the creation of the SW has been adopted for its implementation.

The first step  was the enabling of automated validation of supporting documents (i.e. certificates and licenses) to the customs declaration, using the EU Customs SW IT solution provided by the European Commission DG TAXUD infrastructure. The automated acceptance and verification of certificates by customs already offer benefits to both economic operators and public administrations.

The first pilot project of the EU Customs SW initiative, the EU Single Window – Common Veterinary Entry Document (EU SW-CVED), was initiated in 2012 and entered into production in December 2014.

The aim of the EU SW-CVED project is to provide for automated validity checks of the Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED) and Common Entry Document (CED) certificates submitted with customs declarations.

This project consists in interconnecting the Member States Customs Systems and the DG SANTE certificates database TRACES, which holds the CVED and CED certificates, through the DG TAXUD IT solution.

The system is operational with nine Member States in production in 2018 (Czech Republic, Ireland, Slovenia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Poland, Cyprus, Estonia and Portugal,).
Successful conformance tests have been performed by Lithuania and other Member States have expressed interest to participate in the successor of the project (called EU Customs SW – CERTEX) in the near future (e.g. France, Belgium, and Luxembourg).

In an effort to further facilitate and improve the harmonisation and exchange of data between authorities, the European Commission is committed to expanding the scope of EU SW-CVED with other digitalised EU certificates and enhanced functionalities, gearing towards the solution to grant relevant national customs authorities standardised access to EU certificates issued by other public authorities.

EU Customs Single Window – Certificates Exchange

The business case for the new project, the "EU Customs Single Window: Certificates exchange (CERTEX)" project has been approved by the Member States and the Commission in early 2017 to accommodate new certificates' integration and enhancement of the functionalities of the EU SW-CVED phase. The "EU Customs Single Window: CERTEX" project is based on the EU SW-CVED pilot project.

The enhancement of the functionalities of the EU SW-CVED consist of adding the quantity management functionality, and the possibility to generate and transmit certificates in a human-readable format (i.e. PDF) for the three certificates currently available in the EU SW-CVED (CVEDA, CVEDP and CED).

Three new certificates will be added to the project: Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) from DG ENV, Certificate of Organic Inspection (COI) from DG AGRI and Common Health Entry Document for Plant Protection (CHED-PP) from DG SANTE, envisaging the same functionalities as for the CVEDA, CVEDP and CED after the above-mentioned enhancement.

All three new certificates are (or will be) managed by TRACES (TRACES NT) administered by the European Commission’s DG SANTE.

Initially, the project will be limited to connecting the EU Customs SW to TRACES/TRACES NT since the six certificates falling in scope (CVEDA, CVEDP, CED, FLEGT, COI and CHED-PP) are (or will be) managed within TRACES/TRACES NT. However, looking at the perspectives of the EU Customs SW evolution, other certificates hosted on a database different than TRACES/TRACES NT will be added.

This will be formalised through an addendum to the Business Case and other project documentation.

The next project phase will cover the interconnection with the ODS2 Licensing system of DG CLIMA, allowing the exchange of information on the Ozone Depleting Substances Licenses (ODS) and Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (FGAS). This interconnection is planned to be enabled in 2020.

Customs 2020 working group

In parallel with the activities on certificates exchange, a Customs 2020 Project Group has been set up in December 2016 to study a possible framework to develop the EU Single Window environment for customs including its legal aspects.

This Project Group is expected to tackle the global vision of the EU Single Window environment for customs including the coverage for the automated acceptance and verification of certificates supporting the customs declaration, the necessary legal basis, as well as the Action Plan to establish such environment.

Following the outcome of first phase project activities, a new legal initiative was launched in April 2017, receiving political validation on 20/06/2017. The Inception Impact Assessment for this initiative has been published in Europa-info-better regulation-initiatives.

The aforementioned Project Group will also continue to support the legal developments of the initiative as a consultative body.

A 12-week Open Public Consultation will be conducted in Q3 2018.

More detailed information about the stakeholder consultation activities planned this initiative can be found here.

Stakeholder consultations

The European Commission launched a public consultation to provide stakeholders involved in the cross-border movement of goods and the wider public with the opportunity to express their views on all elements covered by the impact assessment: problem definition and respective drivers/root causes; the issue of subsidiarity and the added value of an EU level intervention; preliminary options for measures/policy packages; likely impacts of each option. Qualitative (opinions, views, perceptions, suggestions) and quantitative information (data, statistics) were sought from stakeholders.

The public consultation was running from 09/10/2018 until 17/01/2019; the questionnaire that had been used in this consultation can be found here. The individual responses submitted during the public consultation period can be viewed in their raw form in this table. A brief statistical report presents the responses for each question – the summary report a more detailed analysis of the public consultation. Participants also had the possibility to upload position papers, which can be found here.

More detailed information about all of the stakeholder consultation activities planned for this initiative can be found in this stakeholder consultation strategy here.

Legal basis of the EU Single Window

The EU Single Window environment for Customs initiative was originally part of the e-Customs Decision (Decision No 70/2008/EC) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 on a paperless environment for customs and trade).
The EU Single Window environment for Customs initiative is the main project remaining under the e-Customs Decision as  most of the projects which were originally covered by the e-Customs Decision are now managed  under the Union Customs Code.

Background information and related links

More detailed information about the milestones and deadlines of the EU Single Window environment for customs initiative can be found in fiche 1.13 of Annex II of the MASP.

More information on e-Customs
More on the Union Customs Code