E-customs a step nearer

The European Commission has welcomed the adoption by the European Parliament and the European Council of Ministers of a decision on the implementation of pan-European electronic customs, paving the way for a paper-free environment for customs.

Jan 17, 2008
By Paul Jacques
Detective Chief Superintendent Jon McAdam

The European Commission has welcomed the adoption by the European Parliament and the European Council of Ministers of a decision on the implementation of pan-European electronic customs, paving the way for a paper-free environment for customs.

Member States and the Commission favour a step-by-step approach implementing additional electronic systems in several phases.

László Kovács, commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs said: “The commitment made by the Commission and the Member States paves the way to a paper-free environment for customs which will allow faster and better exchange of information between European customs authorities and traders. Pan-European electronic customs will increase the competitiveness of companies doing business in Europe, reduce compliance costs and improve security at the EU borders.”

Within pan-European electronic customs, the Commission, customs administrations and other border agencies in the EU will exchange electronic information in order to:

  • Control and facilitate the movement of goods into and out of the internal market through efficient import and export procedures
  • Increase the competitiveness of European trade through a reduction of compliance and administrative costs and an improvement in clearance times
  • Facilitate legitimate trade through a coordinated approach relating to the control of goods
  • Improve the safety and security of citizens with regard to dangerous and illicit goods
  • Offer an improved protection of the financial interests of the EU and its Member States
  • Contribute to the fight against international crime and terrorism by providing rapid and relevant information with regard to the international supply chain

While all Member States have electronic customs systems, they are, in general, not inter-connected. The decision promoting the European electronic customs initiative contains actions and deadlines for making Member States’ electronic customs systems compatible with each other and creating a common electronic portal. This will allow compulsory use of electronic declarations, with paper-based declarations becoming the exception.

By 2011, economic operators will be enable to lodge electronically all the information required by customs legislation for EU cross-border movements of goods.

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