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May Day for Union Customs Code

[ July 29, 2015   //   ]

The European Commission says that its long-awaited and heavily delayed Union Customs Code will come into force on 1 May next year. It aims to usher in “a simpler, more modern and integrated EU customs system to support cross-border trade and provide for more EU-wide cooperation in customs matters. The plan, adopted in 2013, sets out detailed rules for twenty-first century customs processes and is the culmination of several years of work by the Commission on a major overhaul of customs rules in the EU. Detailed acts must now be adopted so that the new rules can be applied from 1 May 2016, says the Commission.

In June, BIFA warned that there had been further delays in introducing the new code, having been told on 5 June that texts had at that time had yet to clear Commission Inter-Services Consultation. This in turn was likely to delay a vote on the implementing act and the new laws will not appear in the Official Journal as Regulations before late September 2015 at the earliest. The Commission’s announcement does though give clarity on the likely timetable.

The European Shippers Council commented that the member states, through the European Council and European Parliament will now have two months to make suggestions on the final Commission text, after which the European Parliament can either reject or accept the whole package.

The ESC is urging the Commission to involve the trade as much as possible in the implementation process and said that it would also participate in a discussion with Permanent Representatives of the member states in September, at which it would make a final attempt to convince EP and Member-States to enhance the level of trade facilitation, specifically for simplified procedures like self assessment, entry into the records and centralized clearance.

The Commission itself promised that the UCC would bring simplifications of the inward processing relief system which allows processing of non-EU goods without payment of import duty, clearer rules to ensure equal treatment of economic operators in the EU, provisions to allow customs decisions and authorisations to be valid across the EU in the future, common data requirements for new customs IT systems to ensure a seamless exchange of information and improvements in risk management to fight trade in illicit and prohibited goods, terrorism and other criminal activities.

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