EU Customs strategy

The Customs Union is a foundation of the European Union and an essential element in the functioning of the single market. The single market can only function properly when there is a common application of common rules at its external borders. This implies that the 27 Customs administrations of the EU must act as though they were one.  These common rules go beyond the Customs Union as such - with its common tariff - and extend to all aspects of trade policy, such as preferential trade, health and environmental controls, the common agricultural and fisheries policies, the protection of our economic interests by non-tariff instruments and external relations policy measures.

 27 customs administrations of the EU implement a community customs code
 The EU is the largest trading space in the world - population of nearly 500 million
 183 million customs declarations completed in 2007 - 5.5 every second
 1,545 million tonnes of sea cargo and 11.7 million tonnes of air cargo checked each year

Today, customs are facing new challenges: they must ensure the smooth flow of trade whilst applying necessary controls on the one hand, whilst guaranteeing protecting the health and safety of the Community's citizens. To achieve the correct balance between these demands, customs procedures and control methods must be modernised and co-operation between the different services must be reinforced.

For this reason, the Modernised Customs Code (Regulation (EC) No 450/2008) was adopted in April 2008.

In order that the EU's economy can continue to compete in a global context, it is essential that customs IT systems are able to exchange electronic information and are provided with a range of interfaces with the trade, based on commonly used technology. In order to improve the interoperability between Member States' automated customs systems, the Council and the European Parliament have adopted a Decision on a paperless environment for customs and trade.