25 May 2023

EU Commission puts forward ambitious and comprehensive reform of the EU Customs Union

On May 2023, the European Commission has released proposals for an ambitious and comprehensive reform of the EU Customs Union.

The proposed measures will greatly simplify customs processes for businesses, especially for the most reliable operators. By embracing digital transformation, the reform will reduce burdensome customs procedures, replacing traditional declarations with a smarter, data-led approach to import monitoring. At the same time, customs authorities will have the tools and resources to properly assess and stop imports that pose real risks to the EU, its citizens, and its economy.

The key features of the reform are:

  • the creation of a new EU Customs Authority, a decentralised agency to share Member States' expertise and resources;
  • this new EU Customs Authority will oversee a new EU Customs Data Hub, a centralised customs information centre which will become the engine of the new system and facilitate communication between customs authorities and with business,
  • introduction of the customs "single window": businesses will only need to interact with a single portal when submitting their customs information — and submit data once for multiple consignments,
  • “deemed importer" rules in relation to distance sales; and
  • elimination of duty relief for goods with a value of less than EUR 150.
  • implementation of the "Trust & Check" programme (an enhanced version of AEO status): the most trusted traders will be able to release their goods into circulation in the EU without any active customs intervention.

The EU Commission’s proposals foresee a wide timeframe for implementation: on 1 January 2028, the EU Customs Authority will be operational, and the EU Customs Data Hub will go into a first, limited operational phase. In a second step, customs IT systems, already centralised, will start to be migrated to the EU Customs Data Hub, and then the remaining national IT systems will migrate. 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.

The legislative proposals will now be sent to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union for agreement, and to the European Economic and Social Committee for consultation.

Further information can be found in:

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