The finance ministers of the European Union agreed on Saturday that the EU’s customs union needs a new approach in terms of its IT systems. Currently each member state has its own system in place, which means administrative costs of up to €2 billion on the state side alone.
The ministers agreed that the union needs to address the cost efficiency and sustainability of its IT, the Estonian Ministry of Finance told BNS on Saturday.
“We have learned from the past that having 28 different IT systems is not sustainable. At the moment, the cost of developing them separately is estimated to be up to €2 billion. The costs for businesses come on top of that,” Finance Minister Toomas Tõniste said. “We see that there is a common understanding that the future development of the customs union’s IT systems requires a change of policy to increase efficiency and cut costs for member states and trade, although the best method has yet to be found.”
“More discussions on the expert level are needed to achieve an agreement on how to go ahead. There is strong support for a pilot project, which could prove that a centralized approach to IT works for the customs union,” he added.
According to the union’s Custom Code, all data exchange between customs authorities and businesses must be electronic starting early 2021. Despite the ever-increasing harmonization of law and the standardization of procedures, there is significant duplication in the development and operation of IT systems.
The EU is one of the main players in overall global trade, with a total share of 16 percent. Besides providing protection to EU citizens, each year the EU’s customs authorities collect 15 percent of the EU’s total revenue.
Editor: Dario Cavegn