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Brussels plans to make customs smarter

[ September 28, 2020   //   ]

The European Commission has launched a new Customs Union Action Plan to make EU customs smarter, more innovative and more efficient over the next four years.

The Commission says that member states’ customs authorities are struggling with the challenges of performing their various roles amid major challenges such as the current public health emergency the UK’s departure from the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union and the rise of digitalisation and e-commerce.

Customs authorities must be equipped with cutting-edge technical equipment and analytical capacities to better predict risky imports and exports. Enhanced customs cooperation with major international trade partners such as China will also support efforts to facilitate trade and, at the same time, ensure effective controls.

The plan focuses on greater availability and use of data and data analysis for customs purposes and calls for intelligent, risk-based supervision of supply chains and for establishing a new analytics hub to collect, analyse and share data to inform critical decisions and help customs authorities identify weak points at the EU’s external borders and manage future crises.

Obligations on payment service providers and online sales platforms will be strengthened to help fight customs duty and tax fraud in e-commerce.

The upcoming ‘Single Window’ initiative will also make it easier for legitimate businesses to complete their border formalities in one single portal.

The plan details the roll-out of modern and reliable customs equipment under the next EU budget. A new reflection group of Member States and business representatives will be set up to help prepare for future crises and challenges such as unanticipated global developments and future business models.

Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, said: “New challenges mean that we need to make our customs rules smarter and ensure they work better for Member States, citizens and legitimate businesses. This calls for improved use of data, better tools and equipment, and more cooperation within the EU and with customs authorities of partner countries. It also requires better foresight.”

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