EU launches action plan for smarter, efficient customs

The European Union (EU) launched on Monday a new Customs Union Action Plan, which aims at modernizing and simplifying customs procedures at the EU borders while tackling fraud linked to customs and VAT.

Presenting the plan at a press conference in Brussels, European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni said it would lead to less expenditure as well as more revenues for the EU.


In 2018, 140 billion euros of VAT revenues were estimated to have been lost to tax fraud and inadequate tax collection, and with the new plan, Gentiloni said he is confident that the EU will recover a good part of it.


The plan includes a proposal for the so-called "Single Window Initiative" for customs, a new digital platform to allow businesses to complete border formalities in one single portal.


The commissioner expected that the initiative could save up to 690 million euros for EU businesses during the first seven years and between 140 million and 200 million euros per year thereafter.

The EU wishes to strengthen customs cooperation with major international trade partners such as China, said Gentiloni, and will work towards an EU-China agreement on a new Strategic Framework for Customs Cooperation 2021-2024 before the end of 2020.

China became the EU's main trading partner in the first seven months of 2020, a place previously held by the United States.

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