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The EU Launches Its Most Comprehensive Reform to the Customs Union

On 17th May 2023, the European Commission put forward proposals for the most ambitious and comprehensive reform of the EU Customs Union since its establishment in 1968.

The reform responds to the current pressures under which EU Customs operates, including a huge increase in trade volumes, especially in e-commerce, a fast-growing number of EU standards that must be checked at the border, and shifting geopolitical realities and crises.

The measures proposed present a world-leading, data-driven vision for EU Customs, which will simplify customs processes for business, especially for the most trustworthy traders. Embracing the digital transformation, the reform will cut down on customs procedures, replacing traditional declarations with a smarter, data-led approach to import supervision. At the same time, customs authorities will have the tools and resources they need to properly assess and stop imports which pose real risks to the EU, its citizens and its economy.

A new EU Customs Authority will oversee an  EU Customs Data Hub which is a single interface where traders will be able to directly provide the information they usually need to provide customs on their imports and exports. Importers and exporters will become solely responsible for paying the applicable duties and taxes and ensuring compliance of the goods with EU standards and legislation. Different actors involved in moving the goods, such as transporters or warehouse operators, will also enter relevant information on the movement of these goods via the new tool. Over time, the Data Hub will replace the existing customs IT infrastructure in EU Member States, saving them up to €2 billion a year in operating costs. The new Authority will also help deliver on an improved EU approach to risk management and customs checks.

Overall, the new framework will make EU Customs fit for a greener, more digital era and contribute to a safer and more competitive Single Market. It simplifies and rationalises customs reporting requirements for traders, for example by reducing the time needed to complete import processes and by providing one single EU interface and facilitating data re-use. In this way, it helps deliver on President von der Leyen’s aim to reduce such burdens by 25%, without undermining the related policy objectives.

What is the timeline for the reform?

The EU Customs Authority shall assume its tasks on 1 January 2028 and will be immediately operational as regards its responsibilities in risk and crisis management. It will gradually expand its scope in sync with the roll-out of the EU Customs Data Hub. The tailor-made customs regime for e-commerce will apply from 2028 onwards, when the EU Customs Data Hub will go into a first, limited operational phase. Traders may start using the EU Customs Data Hub as of 1 January 2032 and will be obliged to do so from 1 January 2038 onwards.

Read more about the EU Customs Union Reform here.

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