In this position paper CONFIAD presents its views on the European Commission’s proposal on the reform of the Union Customs Code, which was made available on 17 May 2023.
CONFIAD welcomes the proposal of the European Commission to modernize the existing EU customs legislation, however it has several concerns on certain key elements.
CONFIAD believes that in the UCC proposal there will be a limited role to customs agents, which will eventually lead to risks of existence of the whole profession of customs agents. It will result in negative consequences for many persons and companies, who are for the most part small or medium-sized enterprises (SME). It seems that the customs agents’ role was side-lined, however, in view of their competence and skills, customs procedures are largely facilitated by customs agents as they act in the first line of defence filtering goods coming to the EU.
The introduction of the status of Trust and Check Trader (TCT), an upgraded AEO, is another matter of discussion in the position paper. If not changed, the proposal places customs agents in a “no-choice” position – when the TCT status is granted, they need to act in indirect representation only, thus unnecessarily assuming all responsibility for goods.
In addition, CONFIAD believes that impact on SMEs is underestimated, and in the proposed arrangement they will not be able to compete with bigger entities. Under these circumstances, it is possible that SMEs will be driven out from the market, which is not in line with the attempts to ensure the level playing field. This disbalance will eventually lead to distortion of competition at the EU’s internal market, which is unacceptable and should be avoided by all means.
CONFIAD offered to introduce the role of TCT Customs Representative. The concept should be closely linked to the EU Customs Data Hub, as data relating to shipments are not always available to the importing TCTs, but according to the delivery terms it is divided between several shipping actors. The differentiation between different TCT roles is essential so that data elements are respectively supplied at each stage of the supply chain.
Nevertheless, CONFIAD welcomes the provisions relating to the establishment of the EU Customs Authority, which should ensure a more harmonized application of the Union’s customs legislation. In CONFIAD’s opinion, the role of the EU Customs Authority should not be limited to coordination of activities across the Member States only, but include efficient control and enforcement at the European level.
These and other matters are further discussed in the CONFIAD’s position paper on the reform of the Union Customs Code.