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EU may have to repeal new customs code

[ March 30, 2012   //   ]

The EU’s new – formerly the Modernised Customs Code – might need to be repealed by EU regulations – if, as widely expected, it cannot be implemented by the time the existing customs code expires on 24 June 2013, said an HMRC official. Richard Bright, international trade development liaison officer at HM Revenue & Customs told a conference on Customs organised by software specialist AEB on 28 March that while the UCC was currently on the statute books, it needed to be made “Lisbon Treaty-compliant” and that the European Commission may take the opportunity to renegotiate parts of it.

As reported in FBJ 2 2012, much of the technical specifications underpinning the new legislation have yet to be written and the whole process is expected to take several years. Bright added: “I don’t have a date as to when UCC might come in but I have heard all sorts of suggestions – right up to 2020.”

Brussels has renamed the Modernised Customs Code the Union Customs Code (UCC) and has set a date of 2020 for implementation of all changes. But while that may be eight years off, many in the trade are questioning whether that date is feasible – and also whether there might be other serious problems along the way.

The ambitious timescale envisages no fewer than 15 different functional specifications being issued next year – three is previously the most that has been attempted in a single year.

At the same time, the current customs code is due to expire on 24 June 2013, at which point the MCC/UCC was due to take over. If the European parliament pushes through the UCC, that would mean new customs laws but no means of implementing them, because UCC implementing provisions will not be ready. Another possibility is that UCC is not adopted by next June, which would mean that there would be no law at all underpinning customs activities in the EU.

 

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