EU ministers agree to modernised Customs Code

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European competitiveness ministers have reached agreement on a new set of rules for exporting within the EU that should cut the red tape currently holding business back from cross-bloc trading.

A modernised Community Customs Code should come into effect next year, according to a political agreement reached among the EU’s 27 member states on 25 June 2007 in the Competitiveness Council. 

Concretely, it will mean that exporters will no longer have to engage in complex customs procedures in the country to which they are exporting, thanks to the introduction of a ‘centralised clearance’ system, under which they will be able to declare goods electronically and pay their customs duties at the place where they are established, irrespective of the member state with which goods are being traded. 

‘Single-window’ portals, through which businesses can provide information to all relevant authorities on their exported goods, will also be set up to enable all the necessary customs and sanitary controls to be performed at the same time and at the same place. 

Work will also be carried out to ensure that the IT systems of the 27 customs administrations are compatible, with a view to creating a paperless, electronic customs environment. 

The aim is to cut bureaucratic costs for businesses in order to preserve jobs, in line with the EU’s Better Regulation Agenda (see LinksDossier).

Irish Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister Michael Martin said that the new Customs Code would bring immediate benefits for exporters: “This decision by the Council of Ministers is very significant for Irish companies that export to other EU markets and moves us closer to the day when firms will be able to conduct ‘paperless trade’ within the Union.” 

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