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Single window for EU customs created and new rules adopted for digital collaboration

Efficient customs clearance and controls are essential for the smooth flow of global trade. One of the ways in which countries are achieving this is through the creation of single-window systems/environments.

As per the WCO, the factual impacts of sound operating Single Window environments have been appreciated by several governments, and Single Window environments are considered not only as one of the main toolkits to implement trade facilitation measures, but also a powerful instrument for the overall implementation of national trade policies.

WCO describes a “Single Window Environment” (SWE) as a cross-border, intelligent, facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information, mainly electronic, with a single entry point to fulfill all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements.

In May 2022, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on a single window for customs and set appropriate conditions for digital collaboration between customs and partner competent authorities.

The aim is to make international trade easier, shorten customs clearance times and reduce the risk of fraud. It will also help reduce the administrative burden for traders,” said the EU website.

Once fully implemented, businesses will no longer have to submit documents to several authorities through different portals. The single window environment will allow customs and other authorities to automatically verify that the goods in question comply with EU requirements and that the necessary formalities have been completed,” the site added.

The EU adopted the Single Window for customs on the 24th of October, setting the tone for enhanced cooperation between the EU states.

The creation of the single window and adoption of the new rules for digital collaboration is set to simplify the enforcement of more than 60 non-customs EU acts as well as national non-customs legislation in areas such as health and safety, the environment, agriculture, fisheries, international heritage and market surveillance at external borders.

Member states’ authorities involved in goods clearance at the EU’s external borders will be able to access and exchange electronic information submitted by traders. The single window environment for customs will also support the automated verification of non-customs formalities for goods entering or leaving the EU.

This means that manual documentary controls to verify certain non-customs formalities will no longer be necessary,” as per the Council’s website.

The new rules are expected to boost the smooth flow of cross-border trade and will help reduce the administrative burden for traders, particularly by saving time and making clearance simpler and more automated.

Commenting on this historic moment, Zbyněk Stanjura, Minister of Finance of Czechia said “I am pleased that we decided to create a single window for customs, as it will make trading with the EU a lot easier. All relevant authorities at the EU’s external borders will be able to access the relevant data electronically and collaborate more easily on border checks. We will be able to enforce our high European standards in areas such as health and safety, environment, agriculture, or international heritage more easily. I am confident that the single window will make goods clearance a lot faster. This will affect hundreds of millions of movements of goods each year.

The provisional agreement on 19 May 2022 was a result of several negotiations between the co-legislators and the adoption of the final text means that this regulation is now set to be signed at the European Parliament’s November II plenary for publishing in the Official Journal of the European Union.

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