The Union Customs Code, which aims to modernize European Union customs legislation and supersede existing rules, will enter into force by 1 November 2013. It enacts much-needed reforms, including a shift by the Customs authority to a paperless, fully electronic environment and swifter Customs procedures for reliable traders (Authorized Economic Operators).
However, the Union Customs Code cannot function without implementing provisions. According to Commission sources, such draft provisions will not be ready before the end of 2014, and more likely not until mid-2015. The aim is to adopt the implementing provisions by June 2016, which is the final date for application of the Union Customs Code. If this date is missed, the Union Customs Code will not enter into effect.
Until then, the existing customs legislation of the EU, the Community Customs Code (Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92), along with its implementing provisions (Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93), remain in effect.
About the Union Customs Code
The Union Customs Code was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 10 October 2013 as Regulation (EU) No 952/2013. It caps a long effort by the EU to modernize its customs rules. The objective has been to simplify the code, structure, and adapt it to the modern information technology environment. In addition to the two reforms mentioned above, the new Code will include elements such as: common criteria for persons who wish to act as customs representatives in other Member States; the right to be heard before a decision is taken by the customs authorities; and centralized clearance (i.e., the ability of an economic operator to lodge its customs declaration with its local customs office, irrespective of where the goods enter the customs territory).
Preserving the Objectives of the Modernized Customs Code of 2008
The Union Customs Code represents a recast of the Modernized Customs Code, which entered into force in 2008 (Regulation (EC) No 450/2008). The 2008 Code was also intended to replace the existing Community Customs Code, but its implementing provisions were never completed despite an extension of the deadline from June to November 2013. In the meantime, in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty and its new provisions on delegated and implementing acts, it became clear that the Modernized Customs Code needed to be reviewed. This review process resulted in a proposal that ultimately became the Union Customs Code.