Introduction of an EU Customs Agency is becoming more and more tangible. This idea of a “European Customs Agency” was first proposed on 31 March 2022 by the “Wise Persons Group on Challenges Facing the Customs Union”. More recently, on 28 February 2023, during the 62nd Plenary Meeting of the Trade Contact Group set up by the European Commission, the creation of an EU Customs Authority was once again discussed alongside the introduction of an EU Customs Data Hub and further simplification of customs processes.
During the discussion on 28 February, the European Commission indicated that one of the main tasks of this agency would “relate to EU risk analysis and crisis management approach and helping to ensure that customs procedures are implemented in the same manner throughout the EU. This is not envisaged to involve ‘boots on the ground’ or interaction directly with the trade community”. As an alternative to the creation of an EU customs agency, the idea of a framework for better cooperation between national customs authorities was floated. This would allow better cooperation and market surveillance between relevant authorities in EU Member States.
The introduction of an EU Customs Data Hub was also discussed. Although business and IT specifications have not been published yet, the purpose is that data shared by traders across the EU would be centralised in one single Hub, available to Customs Authorities, to help them with risk management, customs clearance and post-clearance, and anti-fraud actions. The objective is to identify shortcomings and vulnerabilities by monitoring trends and patterns through data analysis. The intention is to develop the Data Hub over time for it to become the single trade interface. Once the Data Hub covers all transactions, which the Commission seems intent on, this would supposedly greatly reduce the risk for illicit transactions.
The European Commission indicated that it would publish a legislative proposal after Easter 2023, meaning that we can expect this in the near future. The new legislation is expected to come into effect by 2025. We will keep you updated on these developments, which may have a significant impact on EU customs law.