On 30 January, Ecommerce Europe held a Roundtable on the Union Customs Code (UCC) Revision to bring together EU policymakers and impacted stakeholders in a dedicated and interactive session. The roundtable, attended by various members of Ecommerce Europe, gathered the Parliament’s Rapporteur on the UCC Revision for the lead Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), MEP Deirdre Clune (EPP, Ireland), as well as Acting Head of Unit A.2 of DG TAXUD, Ms Vanesa Hernandez. The fruitful conversation led to an exchange on the impact of the proposal and its technicalities specially for the e-commerce sector.
The UCC revision introduces more simplification to the customs processes for businesses as well as strengthens the capacity of customs to supervise and control which goods enter and leave the Customs Union. The Commission’s proposal published on 17 May 2023 lays down several measures that could potentially lead to achievement of a world-leading and data-driven EU Customs. However, many of these measures still need a careful assessment of their short-term implications and a further workout of the operational details.
During the interesting discussions in the UCC Roundtable, many insights and details were shared in the domains of data sharing and set-up of the Data Hub, coordination and role of the Customs Authority, responsibilities of players involved in B2C imports, and impact of the €150 customs threshold removal.
From a timeline perspective, the European Commission acknowledged that the negotiations require several discussions and that the proposal will need to go through thoughtful discussions at political and technical level. However, it also warned that postponing the timeline of the Data Hub and setting up a pilot phase, as proposed by the European Parliament, would incur in further delaying the implementation of the system and lengthening the process. On another note, the Commission supported the idea of an advisory board comprising EU Institutions and stakeholders to oversee a successful and smooth roll-out of the reform. In this regard, cooperation between impacted players and EU Institutions will be instrumental.
Regarding the consistency between the Customs reform and other legislative files, the European Commission and Parliament agreed that the negotiations will look at ensuring synergy with other pending and existing legislations (Ecodesign, DSA, GPSR, ViDA, etc). One of the key topics open for discussion included the type of responsibility of marketplaces acting as importers / deemed importers. While many options were put on table, such as restricting to fiscal responsibilities, limiting non-fiscal to specific fields (transparency, due diligence, etc) or including wider non-fiscal responsibilities, the EU Institutions could not share the details of the negotiations but anticipated that the final compromise will stay consistent with parallel legislative workstreams.
Another cornerstone of the discussions was the removal of the €150 threshold for customs duties. As this topic is not in the scope of the IMCO draft report, the European Commission could not share any information, but it confirmed that the negotiators are looking into the feasibility and practicalities of discussing the changes proposes to the Import One Stop Shop by the “VAT in the Digital Age” (ViDA) legislative proposal in the context of the Customs Reform. This would require a careful approach and a thoughtful compromise during the ViDA negotiations, which are expected to be sealed in May at the occasion of the last ECOFIN meeting before the EU Elections.
Regarding the state of play of the negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council, and in view of the fact that the EU Elections will take place in June 2024 but the Council might reach a general compromise only next year, the IMCO Rapporteur confirmed that the IMCO Committee will adopt the final report on 22 February and then table it for plenary voting in April. However, MEP Clune also reassured that the different work speed between the two legislators will not lead to mismatches or inconsistency in the respective positions.
In the end, Ecommerce Europe confirmed its interest and the one of its members in this important legislative file, which will pair up with other legislative workstreams to make the EU customs and VAT system, as well as the wider e-commerce and platform economy more resilient, modern and digitalised. You can find our full position on the UCC Revision here.
If you have any questions or wish to know more about this topic, please contact us at email@example.com.