The European Commission, in a memorandum issued on February 19, 2008, has promulgated a modernized customs code that is intended to streamline customs procedures throughout the European Union and facilitate the tracking of goods. The modernized code calls for increased computerization of customs formalities, with its goal being the achievement of a “paperless environment for customs and trade.”
Under the modernized code, importers will be able to digitally file customs declarations and accompanying documents. European national customs authorities will be able to exchange electronic information relating to trade. The code introduces the concept of “centralized clearance”, whereby authorized traders will be able to declare goods electronically and pay duties at the place where they are established, instead of the Member State or customs territory in which the goods are entered or consumed. A “single window” and “one-stopshop” approach to data collection is also proposed, whereby data will collected through only one contact point (a “single window”) and processed by multiple agencies (customs, health, environmental) at the same time and at the same place (the “one-stop-shop”). The European Commission anticipates that electronic filing of all information required by customs legislation pertaining to the cross-border movement of goods should be a reality by 2011.