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Brussels unveils 'smarter' customs plan

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Brussels unveils 'smarter' customs plan

Paolo Gentiloni - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - The EU Commission launched a new Customs Union Action Plan Monday, setting out a series of measures to make EU customs 'smarter, more innovative and more efficient' over the next four years.

The measures will, according to the EU executive, strengthen the Customs Union as a cornerstone of the Single Market, and confirm its major role in protecting EU revenues and the security, health and prosperity of EU citizens and businesses.

The EU Customs Union forms a single territory for customs purposes, where a common set of rules are applied. Within the EU Customs Union, EU Member States' customs authorities are responsible for performing a wide and increasing range of controls.

Major challenges to the Customs Union include the current public health emergency, the consequences of the UK's departure from the EU's Single Market and Customs Union, and the rise of digitalisation and e-commerce.

Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, praised the EU Customs Union for helping to protect Europeans and "keep trade flowing across our borders". But new challenges meant that "we need to make our customs rules smarter and ensure they work better for Member States, citizens and legitimate businesses. This calls for improved use of data, better tools and equipment, and more cooperation within the EU and with customs authorities of partner countries," he said.

The new Action Plan includes a number of initiatives in areas such as risk management, managing e-commerce, the promotion of compliance and customs authorities acting as one:

  • Risk management: the Action Plan focuses in particular on ensuring greater availability and use of data and data analysis for customs purposes. It calls for intelligent, risk-based supervision of supply chains and for establishing a new analytics hub within the Commission for collecting, analysing and sharing customs data that can inform critical decisions, help customs authorities identify weak points at the EU's external borders and manage future crises.
  • Managing e-commerce: in this regard, and in order to tackle the new challenges of e-commerce, obligations on payment service providers and online sales platforms will be strengthened to help fight customs duty and tax fraud in e-commerce.
  • Promotion of compliance: the upcoming 'Single Window' initiative will make it easier for legitimate businesses to complete their border formalities in one single portal. It will allow for more collaborative processing, sharing and exchange of information and better risk assessment for customs authorities.
  • Customs authorities acting as one: the Action Plan details the roll-out of modern and reliable customs equipment under the next EU budget. A new reflection group formed of Member States and business representatives will be set up to help prepare for future crises and challenges such as unanticipated global developments and future business models.
New Customs Union Action Plan - background guide

Commission factsheet

Customs Union Action Plan

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