Single Window for Customs: the EU simplifies the administrative burden


On 28 October 2020, the European Commission published a new legislative proposal to set up a digital solution for sharing electronic data between different customs authorities involved in goods clearance at the border. The proposal sets out the establishment of a new EU Single Window Environment for Customs which will be a digital platform aimed at enhancing coordination among Member States and easing the verification of non-customs formalities for goods entering or leaving the EU.

The goals of the Single Window are to:

  • Facilitate trade by reducing the administrative burden for companies,
  • Increase the efficiency of goods clearance, while improving regulatory compliance,
  • Promote better digital cooperation and coordination between all national authorities in all Member States that are involved in the clearance of goods.

Through the Single Window, traders will have to submit information only once and businesses will no longer have to complete border formalities in different national portals. Every Member States will set up national Single Window portals which will then be linked up through an overarching EU digital framework. The European Commission will provide both technical and financial support to Member States in setting up the national portals, including through funding from the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

The Member States will need to work together on this platform by agreeing on a governance framework, setting up a common IT solution and creating an automated and integrated set of processes that can be used to clear goods.

Once fully implemented, the Single Window will replace the current fragmented model of border checks, which is burdensome for traders, inefficient for authorities and vulnerable to error and fraud. By means of a simple design and the interconnected network of national portals, the Single Window will modernise border controls over the coming decade and facilitate trade, improve safety and compliance checks, and ultimately reduce the administrative burden for companies.

The Single Window proposal was announced as one of the 17 actions of the new Customs Union Action Plan published in September, and it is the first concrete deliverable that takes the Customs Union to the next level. The Single Window has been proposed in the form of a regulation, meaning that it would  immediately be applicable in all EU Member States. The proposal for regulation will now pass to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union through the inter-institutional process.

Ecommerce Europe will continue to monitor this file and update its members accordingly.