European Commission proposes new ‘Single Window’ to modernise and streamline customs controls, facilitate trade and improve cooperation
Each year, the Custom Union facilitates the trade of more than 3,5 trillion EUR worth of goods. Efficient customs clearance and controls are essential to allow trade to flow smoothly while also protecting EU citizens, businesses and the environment.
On 28 October 2020, the European Commission proposed the ‘EU Single Window Environment for Customs’, a new initiative aiming to enhance cooperation and coordination between different authorities, in order to facilitate the automatic verification of non-customs formalities for goods entering or leaving the EU.
The Single Window aims to digitalise and streamline processes, so that businesses will ultimately no longer have to submit documents to several authorities through different portals. The proposal is the first concrete deliverable of a recently adopted action plan on taking the Customs Union to the next level.
Once fully rolled out, the Single Window will also allow businesses to complete border formalities in one single portal in a given Member State. Customs and other authorities will then be able to automatically verify that the goods in question comply with EU requirements and that the necessary formalities have been completed.
Why has the European Commission proposed the Single Window?
Currently, the formalities required at the EU’s external borders often involve many different authorities in charge of different policy areas, such as health and safety, the environment, agriculture, fisheries, cultural heritage and market surveillance and product compliance. As a result, businesses have to submit information to several different authorities, each with their own portal and procedures. This is very time-consuming for traders and reduces the capacity of authorities to act in a joined-up way in combatting risks.
This proposal is the first step in creating a digital framework for enhanced cooperation between all border authorities, through one Single Window. This initiative will enable businesses and traders to provide data in one single portal in an individual Member State, thereby reducing duplication, time and costs. Customs and other authorities will then be able to collectively use this data, allowing for a fully coordinated approach to goods clearance and a clearer overview at EU level of the goods that are entering or leaving the EU.
How will the Single Window work in practice?
Member States should set up national Single Window portals, through which businesses can upload the information related to the goods they are bringing in or out of the EU. These national portals will then link up through the EU digital framework that the Commission will put in place, so that all relevant authorities can access the relevant data and collaborate more easily on border checks.
Ultimately, the aim is that national Single Windows will replace the multitude of different portals used by the different authorities responsible for border checks. This will create a much more streamlined, coordinated and holistic approach to goods clearance within the Union.