On 8 September 2016, a Joint Statement was issued by seven leading trade associations – the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU (AmCham EU), European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistics and Customs Services (CLECAT), EuroCommerce, the European Express Association, the Foreign Trade Association (FTA), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Shipping Council (WSC) – that announced that on 7 September, at a conference in Brussels, they called on EU institutions to enhance the competitiveness of business and boost trade through more coordinated border management, additional benefits for economic operators and a harmonised implementation of the new European Customs Code (UCC) among the EU’s Member States.

The conference concluded that the fact that the UCC has just entered into force does not mean that further improvements cannot be considered in the coming years. Moreover, new electronic customs systems are needed to implement several elements of the UCC by 2020, which business regards as a challenging deadline. To mitigate these risks and ensure the UCC succeeds as a tool of enhanced trade facilitation, the conference called on EU policy makers to consider the following:

  • Strategic cross-government, coordination for EU customs policy development and delivery;
  • Renewed efforts to rationalise, simplify and align EU customs procedures, data requirements and IT processes. These measures need to be more closely based on global standards such as the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards in order to reflect the global nature of Europe’s trade;
  • The implementation in the EU of IT systems with harmonised functional and technical specifications for receiving and reusing EU wide harmonised data. A fragmented approach in the implementation of such systems cannot work;
  • The creation of new benefits for compliant operators including AEOs;
  • Further improvements to centralised customs clearance, concrete support for the needs of small and medium sized enterprises to ensure they can maximise the benefits of the new UCC;
  • Ensuring that customs treatment does not lead to market and competitive distortions and improving customs processes as essential elements for enhanced trade competiveness.