EU Customs Code – more needs to be done

Seven international trade associations have called on the EU to help boost international trade through better coordinated border management and to press ahead with a harmonised implementation of the European Customs Code (UCC) among its member states.

The trade associations – the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU, CLECAT, EuroCommerce, the European Express Association, the Foreign Trade Association, the International Air Transport Association and the World Shipping Council – issued a joint statement on 7 September.

This followed discussions that took place during an event that was held at the World Customs Organisation’s HQ in Brussels.

In the statement, the associations argued: “The original Customs Code that came into force in 1993 does not reflect the ways modern businesses and governments communicate with each other today.”

Though acknowledging the EU’s efforts to bring the Code up to date but said more needs to be done.

“The significant work undertaken by the Commission and other European institutions together with some input from the European Union Trade Contact Group (TCG) led in May 2016 to the new UCC which seeks to balance the urgent need for more business-friendly rules for trade alongside the need for efficient and effective safety and security requirements,” the statement read.

“Whether the right balance between these objectives has been obtained was the focus of discussions at a major conference on 7th September in Brussels. While some progress has been identified in the early implementation of the UCC, it is clear that certain aspects of this balance still need to be addressed. The conference also focused on a vision of customs policy as an instrument of trade facilitation, driving competitiveness and how this vision can be achieved through the lessons learnt from the implementation of EU customs policy.”

“The conference concluded that the fact that the UCC has just entered into force does not mean that further improvements cannot be considered in the coming years. Moreover, new electronic customs systems are needed to implement several elements of the UCC by 2020, which business regards as a challenging deadline.”

The statement ended with a call for more collaboration among industry stakeholders: “The implementation of the UCC is a chance for building further partnership between trade and the Commission, other EU Institutions, and among all stakeholders, joining forces for customs to play a more effective role in future EU trade policy and, ultimately, to facilitate competitiveness and growth.”