Freight News

Industry unimpressed as Brussels rubber-stamps new customs rules

[ May 31, 2013   //   ]

The EU’s Council of Industry Ministers rubber-stamped the new Union Customs Code (UCC) on 29 May. The UCC is intended to modernise the EU’s customs regulation and facilitate and supports intra-EU trade through the latest information and communication technologies -reducing costs, while improving the effectiveness of customs controls, according to Richard Bruton, Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and whose country currently holds the EU presidency.

However, the UCC is a step back from what was originally proposed, argues an unimpressed Peter MacSwiney, chairman of freight industry software firm, ASM. Originally, EU legislators planned to introduce the Modernised Customs Code (MCC) which, he says, “mandated that all customs submissions and documentation should become electronic by 24 June 2013. The trade and authorities involved spent considerable time discussing the MCC, working out how it would function and reached a sensible point. Then the Lisbon Treaty reared its head and someone, somewhere in the EU Commission deemed that the MCC was contrary to the Treaty.”

Despite the work already done, the MCC was re-written and became the UCC and the EU also allowed a moratorium on electronic transaction, stating only that users must demonstrate a ‘plan’ for going electronic, include dates for working towards it but in the meantime would still be able to use paper documents.

Under the EU’s Delegated Powers, there was no consultation or debate on the issue,” just an EU decision” MacSwiney says.

He continues: “This illustrates the problem. Whatever member states discuss, the EU Commission can use its Delegated Powers to make decisions and changes without consultation. If the EU had a record of introducing sensible legislation, inventing workable schemes and getting things right it would not be an issue. But they don’t, in fact they’re pretty far from that position”.

“Aside from the prospect of some sort of limbo between the two codes, if the UCC becomes law in June there are currently no implementation provisions, so everyone will think about it and figure out what they think it means. This directive seems doomed to failure. The only impact is more bureaucracy and cost.”

“It must be time for EU directives that make it easy for trade to do business in Europe rather than make it increasingly difficult. And it must be time for serious consideration as to the wisdom of EU Delegated Powers.”

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