EU must boost customs performance

The European Union must improve its customs procedures to boost trade and enhance business competitiveness, according to seven leading trade associations – the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU, CLECAT, EuroCommerce, the European Express Association, the Foreign Trade Association, the International Air Transport Association and the World Shipping Council.

In a joint statement, the organisations have called on EU institutions to enhance the competitiveness of business and boost trade through more coordinated border management, additional benefits for economic operators and a harmonised implementation of the new European Customs Code (UCC) among the EU’s Member States.

The said the original Customs Code that came into force in 1993 does not reflect the ways modern businesses and governments communicate with each other today. The significant work undertaken by the Commission and other European institutions together with some input from the European Union Trade Contact Group (TCG) led in May 2016 to the new UCC which seeks to balance the urgent need for more business-friendly rules for trade alongside the need for efficient and effective safety and security requirements.

But they said that the fact that the UCC has just entered into force does not mean that further improvements cannot be considered in the coming years. Moreover, new electronic customs systems are needed to implement several elements of the UCC by 2020, which business regards as a challenging deadline.

The called for:

  • Strategic cross – government, coordination for EU customs policy development and delivery;
  • Renewed efforts to rationalise, simplify and align EU customs procedures, data requirements and IT processes;
  • The implementation in the EU of IT systems with harmonised functional and technical specifications for receiving and reusing EU wide harmonised data;
  • The creation of new benefits for compliant operators including AEOs;
  • Further improvements to centralised customs clearance, concrete support for the needs of small and medium sized enterprises to ensure they can maximise the benefits of the new UCC;
  • Ensuring that customs treatment does not lead to market and competitive distortions and improving customs processes as essential elements for enhanced trade competiveness.
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