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Introduction of an EU Customs Agency is becoming more and more tangible. This idea of a “European Customs Agency” was first proposed on 31 March 2022 by the “Wise Persons Group on Challenges Facing the Customs Union”. More recently, on 28 February 2023, during the 62nd Plenary Meeting of the Trade Contact Group set up by the European Commission, the creation of an EU Customs Authority was once again discussed alongside the introduction of an EU Customs Data Hub and further simplification of customs processes.

During the discussion on 28 February, the European Commission indicated that one of the main tasks of this agency would “relate to EU risk analysis and crisis management approach and helping to ensure that customs procedures are implemented in the same manner throughout the EU. This is not envisaged to involve ‘boots on the ground’ or interaction directly with the trade community”. As an alternative to the creation of an EU customs agency, the idea of a framework for better cooperation between national customs authorities was floated. This would allow better cooperation and market surveillance between relevant authorities in EU Member States.

The introduction of an EU Customs Data Hub was also discussed. Although business and IT specifications have not been published yet, the purpose is that data shared by traders across the EU would be centralised in one single Hub, available to Customs Authorities, to help them with risk management, customs clearance and post-clearance, and anti-fraud actions. The objective is to identify shortcomings and vulnerabilities by monitoring trends and patterns through data analysis. The intention is to develop the Data Hub over time for it to become the single trade interface. Once the Data Hub covers all transactions, which the Commission seems intent on, this would supposedly greatly reduce the risk for illicit transactions.

The European Commission indicated that it would publish a legislative proposal after Easter 2023, meaning that we can expect this in the near future. The new legislation is expected to come into effect by 2025. We will keep you updated on these developments, which may have a significant impact on EU customs law.

Author

Jennifer Revis is a partner in Baker McKenzie's London office and co-leads our EMEA Customs Team.
Jennifer focuses her practice on the public regulation of international trade, particularly in a wide range of customs compliance issues. She regularly advises clients on import matters, including customs valuation, rules of origin, and classification. She has worked with clients designing and implementing their compliance programs, policies, procedures and risk assessments, and assisting them in customs audits. She has significant experience in managing global customs projects and disputes, particularly in the area of customs valuation (transfer pricing; assists; royalties). Jennifer also advises on FTAs and trade remedies matters.
Jennifer has been consistently recognised as a "Leading Individual" for Customs & Excise and “Next Generation Partner” for Trade, WTO Anti-Dumping And Customs. Clients describe her as "an outstanding customs lawyer and litigator with fantastic experience. She is also easy to work with and leads her team with aplomb", "without a doubt, one of the best customs lawyers in the business (…) with an exceptionally deep knowledge of customs valuation concepts, as well as considerable experience applying those concepts in a variety of jurisdictions."
Jennifer has been on secondment to the UK customs authorities (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) in their tax and excise litigation department and to the Firm's European Law Centre in Brussels.

Author

Sylvain Guelton is a senior associate in the Tax Practice Group in the Brussels office. He joined Baker McKenzie in 2022. He was previously a senior manager at PwC Belgium for six years and a lawyer in a French law firm based in Paris and Brussels.

Author

Thijs van Luijt is an associate within Amsterdam Indirect Tax team. He joined the firm in 2019.

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