The customs union abolished customs duties at EU countries' national borders and put in place a uniform system for taxing imports. Customs officers now work mostly at the EU's external borders. They not only keep trade flowing, but perform a wide range of tasks to protect Europeans.
The customs union is a single trading area where all goods circulate freely, whether made in the EU or imported from outside. A Finnish mobile phone can be dispatched to Hungary without being subject to any duty and without any customs control.
Duty on goods from outside the EU – say TVs from South Korea – is paid when they first enter the EU, but after that there is nothing more to pay and no more checks.
Despite this, customs work in the EU remains vital, especially given the sheer volume of goods entering the bloc. EU customs services handle nearly 20% of total world imports – over 2 billion tonnes of goods a year. To do so, they process well over 200 million declarations annually.
Customs protection includes:
Graph showing seized articles by category
Another major task of EU customs is to tackle fraud, which deprives governments of tax revenue needed for vital public spending, in particular:
EU customs officers also collect statistics as a basis for: