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EC Welcomes Planned Pan-European Electronic Customs System

by Carla Johnson, Investors, London

13 December 2007

The European Commission has welcomed the adoption by the European Parliament and the European Council of Ministers of a decision on the implementation of a pan-European electronic customs system, 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 announced that:

"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 a pan-European electronic customs regime, 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 co-ordinated 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; and
  • Contribute to the fight against international crime and terrorism by providing rapid and relevant information with regard to the international supply chain.

The EC explained that:

"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."

It concluded:

"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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