So far in our Union Customs Code (UCC) Delegated Act Amendments blog series we have covered four topics, with the previous article dealing with guarantees. Now, in our fifth article, we focus on the shift to a complete use of electronic customs systems for electronic data exchange within the EU customs territory.
A major goal of the UCC is the shift to the complete use of electronic systems for data exchange between economic operators and customs authorities, as well as between the customs authorities themselves. There are 17 electronic systems, and Article 278 of the UCC states that the existing systems—most of which are paper-based—can continue to be used for customs processes on a transitional basis until December 31, 2020 if the electronic systems are not yet operational. While most systems will be completed by 2020, some will not, as there are many challenges facing both the European Commission and Member States.
First, harmonising the data from economic operators in line with internationally accepted data models requires a full reprogramming of existing electronic systems which takes longer and is more expensive than expected. Second, as the electronic systems are closely interlinked, introducing them in the right order is important. Delays in the development of one system will therefore unavoidably lead to delays in the development of the others. Third, the UCC (including the end date for transitional measures on December 31, 2020) was adopted in 2013 while the rules supplementing and implementing it, namely the UCC Delegated Regulation, the UCC Implementing Regulation, and the UCC Transitional Delegated Regulation, were only adopted in 2015 and 2016. The discussions on those rules took much longer than expected, which caused a delay in setting forth the functional and technical specifications necessary for the development of the electronic systems.
For six of the 17 electronic systems, the deadline will be extended to December 31, 2025. After consulting with both the Member States and economic operators, the European Commission identified two groups of systems that will require additional work after December 31, 2020:
- Existing electronic systems that must be upgraded to take account of certain requirements of the UCC, such as the harmonisation of data. This group consists of three trans-European systems: theImport Control System (ICS), which deals with Entry Summary Declarations); the New Computerised Transit System (NCTS) for external and internal transit; and the Automated Export System (AES) for export out of the EU customs territory plus the update of the National Export System which includes the export component of the national Special Procedures System.
- New trans-European systems, including theGuarantee Management (GUM) for guarantees for a potential or existing customs debt; the Proof of Union Status (PoUS) for the customs status of goods; and the CentralisedClearance for Import (CCI).
The Commission, together with the Member States, has decided that the existing systems, i.e., the first group, can continue to be used on a transitional basis until December 31, 2025. After this date, all six electronic systems will have to be up and running.
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