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EU Blue Economy Observatory
News announcement5 June 2023

Ambitious EU customs union reform benefits businesses

The Commission has unveiled a world-leading, data-driven vision for EU Customs, the most ambitious and comprehensive reform of the EU Customs Union since its inception in 1968. 

The proposed measures will not only significantly simplify customs operations for businesses, but will also provide customs authorities with the tools they need to effectively analyse and stop imports that represent serious hazards to the EU, its citizens, and its economy.

​​​​​The Customs Union is one of the biggest success stories of European integration. The fact that goods can move freely within the EU Single Market, the world's largest integrated single market area, literally pays off for businesses and consumers. In 2021, the value of EU trade with other countries amounted to €4.3 trillion, accounting for 14% of world trade. And up to 56 million jobs in the EU rely on intra-EU trade.

But after more than half a century of existence, the EU Customs Union is struggling to deliver effectively on all of its tasks. The challenges are manyfold: the number of smaller parcels ordered online outside the EU has increased exponentially, for instance. And there is a huge increase in the number of EU standards that must be checked at the border, from environmental protection to the fight against forced labour - to name but a few.

A single EU Customs Data Hub

The reform simplifies and rationalises customs reporting requirements for traders, for example by reducing the time needed to complete import processes, and by providing one single EU interface and making data re-use easier.

A new EU Customs Authority will oversee an EU Customs Data Hub, which will act as the engine of the new system. Businesses that want to bring goods into the EU will be able to log all the information on their products and supply chains in this new Data Hub. This cutting-edge technology will compile the data and – via machine learning, artificial intelligence and human intervention – provide authorities with a 360-degree overview of supply chains and the movement of goods. The system will gradually replace the existing customs IT infrastructure in EU Member States, saving them up to €2 billion a year in operating costs.

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Publication date
5 June 2023