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EU Customs Action Plan: What's in it (in a nutshell)?

The EU has a Customs Union Action Plan: SMARTER, MORE INNOVATIVE and MORE EFFICIENT. Here are the key highlights that businesses need to know about in a nutshell.

The EU has launched a new Customs Union Action Plan.

  • There are 17 measures to make EU customs (1) smarter, (2) more innovative and more (3) efficient over the next four years.

  • It aims to protect EU revenues and the security, health and prosperity of EU citizens and businesses.

Top 10 Key Measures and operator should know about:

  1. In October, there will be a proposal for the ‘Single Window initiative' for customs, a digital environment to allow businesses to complete border formalities in one single portal. The Single Window means that, for example, an importer of agricultural products will no longer have to lodge separate customs and phyto-sanitary declarations.

  2. Plans to monitor and explore possible improvements to the EU Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programme, which allows customs compliant traders to benefit from a range of simplifications of customs formalities: "We want to prevent abuse of the programme while encouraging its take-up".

  3. Common system of customs sanctions. The absence of a common system of infringements and sanctions creates legal uncertainty for businesses and possible competitive distortions in the Internal Market. It means in particular vulnerabilities in revenue collection and weaknesses in enforcing policies. The Commission will propose another approach to this subject.

  4. Involvement of customs in protecting the single market against the import of non-compliant and unsafe products: A new regulation on market surveillance and compliance of products that will enter into application in 2021 will allow more effective controls on products entering the EU. The Commission will adopt implementing legislation aimed at rendering customs intervention and cooperation more effective, including through a strengthened risk management framework, and will develop a new interface between customs and market surveillance systems at EU level in order to support sharing of information.

  5. A new "nerve centre" of information. Commission and Member State databases in the customs and non-customs areas contain vast amounts of data that are currently not used to their full potential or are not inter-connected. This is a new analytics hub within the EU Commission to collect, analyse and share customs data. It will harness new technologies and can help to anticipate vulnerabilities and future crises.

  6. Fight against fraud in the field of e-commerce ( = strengthen the obligations of payment service providers and online sales platforms)

  7. The EU will roll-out modern and reliable customs technical equipment, including crucial updates of the digital infrastructure on which customs operate, to make it more modern, integrated and future-proof.

  8. The EU plans to enhance customs cooperation with major international trade partners such as China. This will support our efforts to facilitate trade and, at the same time, ensure effective controls.

  9. The EU step up the monitoring of certain customs-related aspects of the EU's 41 Free Trade Agreements.

  10. They will set up a new reflection group to examine how the Customs Union can be better prepared for the future. This should include trade representatives to make the Customs Union smarter and more technologically advanced.

More about the programme and the timeline for the next four years here:

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