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IP/07/875

Brussels, 25 June 2007

Customs: Commission welcomes political agreement on the modernised Customs Code

The European Commission welcomes the political agreement reached by the EU Council of Ministers on a modernised Community Customs Code which will simplify legislation and streamline customs process and procedures for benefits of both customs authorities and traders (IP/05/1501). The agreement now needs to be confirmed by the European Parliament in a second reading which is expected to come in the next months.

"In full respect with our "better regulation" and e-government strategies, the modernised Community Customs Code will provide fewer and simpler rules adapted to a modern electronic and paperless customs environment." said László Kovács, Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs. "I am very pleased that, thanks to the efforts of the Austrian, Finnish and German Presidencies, we have been able to reach an agreement in the Council. I now encourage the European Parliament to start a second reading as soon as possible after the adoption of the common position by the Council, in order rapidly to reach a final decision."

Together with the electronic customs initiative (IP/07/627), the modernised Customs Code is part of the Commission's global reform aimed at creating a new electronic customs environment. It will simplify customs legislation and streamline customs processes and procedures while, at the same time, the electronic customs initiative will provide for more convergence between the IT systems of the 27 customs administrations. As a result, traders will save money and time in their business transactions with customs.

The modernised Customs Code will:

  • Introduce the electronic lodging of customs declarations and accompanying documents as the rule;
  • Provide for the exchange of electronic information between the national customs and other competent authorities;
  • Promote the concept of "centralised clearance", under which authorised traders will be able to declare goods electronically and pay their customs duties at the place where they are established, irrespective of the Member State through which the goods will be brought in or out of the EU customs territory or in which they will be consumed.
  • Offer bases for the development of the 'Single Window' and 'One-Stop-Shop' concepts, under which economic operators give information on goods to only one contact point ('Single Window' concept), even if the data should reach different administrations/agencies, so that controls on them for various purposes (customs, sanitary...) are performed at the same time and at the same place ('one-stop-shop' concept).

The political agreement reached today paves the way for a common position to be formally adopted by the Council under the Portuguese Presidency before the second reading in Parliament can start.

Background

The present Community Customs Code, which codified the existing regulations and directives and harmonized the customs rules of the Member States in force in the eighties, was adopted in 1992. Since then, only limited changes addressing specific problems have been made which has meant that it has not kept pace with the radical changes to the environment in which Customs and traders operate, particularly in respect of the rapid and irreversible adoption of electronic data exchange.

The Customs Code has to be adapted to fit the electronic environment. Current customs procedures and processes are unnecessarily complex. Not only are they out of line with the IT environment, but they also do not reflect either the decline in customs duties which has taken place over the past 20 years or the changing focus of customs work, which is shifting away from the collection of these duties towards the application of non-tariff measures. These include, in particular, security and safety measures, such as the fight against counterfeit goods, money laundering and drugs, and the application of sanitary, health and consumer protection measures, as well as the collection of VAT and excise duties on importation or the exemption from such taxes on exportation.

Further information on the modernised Customs Code can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs/policy_issues/electronic_customs_initiative/operational_issues/index_en.htm

The Commission's proposal is available at this website:

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/resources/documents/common/legislation/proposals/customs/COM608_F_en.pdf


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