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EC Joins World Customs Organisation

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

04 July 2007

The European Commission on Monday welcomed the World Customs Organisation's (WCO) decision to give membership rights to the European Community as from 1 July 2007 (Sunday).

The Commission stated that:

"This decision underlines the international recognition of the role and competence of the Community in customs policy and will effectively improve international customs cooperation. It will strengthen the Community's ability to achieve its objective of implementing modern customs policy combining appropriate control at the external borders with trade facilitation and development."

László Kovács, Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs further announced that:

"I welcome the WCO decision on the European Community joining that organisation. The WCO is an international organisation managing very important international conventions and standards that affect customs administrations everywhere. WCO's objective being the promotion of modern and efficient customs around the world, the Community is willing to play a central role in its activities for the benefits of citizens and business."

One of the earliest benefits of the European integration into the WCO is the customs union, which will make freedom of movement of goods easier within the EU.

The World Customs Organization's objective is the development, promotion and implementation of modern and secure customs systems and procedures around the world. The WCO manages important customs policy and technical conventions in the field of trade facilitation, tariff classification, valuation and origin.

Multilateral cooperation in the framework of the WCO will also promote mutual recognition of measures for security, intellectual property right enforcement, capacity building and trade facilitation promoted by the WCO. On a more operational level, membership will fully acknowledge the competence of the European Community in customs matters, and therefore improve international customs cooperation.

The World Customs Organization is an independent intergovernmental body with more than 170 members.

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