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European Commission


Brussels, 11 September 2013

Customs: Commissioner Šemeta welcomes EP vote to complete the modernization of Customs

Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner responsible for Customs, has warmly welcomed the adoption of the Union Customs Code by the European Parliament today.

"The Customs Union is the quiet success story of the EU. For over 40 years, it has protected our citizens, safeguarded our businesses and facilitated the ever increasing trade flows in and out of the Union. The Union Customs Code, endorsed by the European Parliament today, will ensure that customs continues its vital work, but in an even more efficient, cost-effective way; one which best meets the challenges of our modern economy. Special thanks must be extended to the rapporteur MEP Constance Le Grip for the excellent work to allow the timely adoption of these new rules for customs throughout Europe."

Customs for the 21st century

The Union Customs Code will serve as the new framework Regulation on the rules and procedures for customs throughout the EU. It will enshrine in legislation a number of important practices which, up to now, have been implemented on a case by case basis, in order to address the challenges of the modern trade environment. As such, it will offer greater legal certainty to businesses, and increased clarity for customs officials throughout the EU. The new Code streamlines and simplifies customs rules and procedures, and facilitates more efficient customs transactions in line with modern-day needs.

Among the improvements that will be introduced with the new Code are measures to complete the shift by Customs to a paperless, fully electronic environment, and provisions to reinforce swifter Customs procedures for reliable traders (Authorised Economic Operators).

The Union Customs Code will also allow gaps which were already identified in the State of the Customs Union exercise to be bridged (see IP/12/1441). This includes the need for a harmonised approach to dealing with customs infringements, for which the Commission will make a separate proposal later this year.

Next steps

The Council should now adopt the Regulation for the Union Customs Code within the coming weeks, so that it can enter into force by 1 November 2013.


The European Union is the largest trading space in the world, and the Customs Union is a founding stone of the EU. It is essential to Single Market, because without Customs at our external borders, the free movement of goods within the EU would not be possible.

In 2012 Customs treated 261 million declarations. This represents 15 articles each second. The value of the goods going through Customs last year came to €3.5 trillion.

The Member States' 28 individual customs administrations apply a community customs code. This ensures the common application of common rules at all of the EU's external borders.

These common rules extend to all aspects of trade policy, such as preferential trade, the implementation of safety and security measures, health and environmental controls, the common agricultural and fisheries policies, the protection of our economic interests by non-tariff instruments, and external relations policy measures.

On 20 February 2012, the Commission proposed to recast the Modernized Customs Code into the Union Customs Code.

Useful Links

Homepage of Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta, EU Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-fraud Commissioner:

Background on the EU's Customs Strategy can be found on:

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