Customs Single Window

In “An Economy that Works for People”

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On 29 January 2020, the European Commission published its work programme for 2020. Under the third priority - 'an economy that works for people', the Commission announced its intention to adopt a legislative proposal on a Customs Single Window, in order to reinforce the protection of the borders and to simplify administrative procedures for companies. The Customs Single Window was also one of the measures included in the new Customs Union Action Plan, published by the Commission on 28 September 2020.

In the actual situation, certain goods entering the European Union need to go through multiple regulatory formalities besides submitting a customs declaration, including those required for health and safety, environment, agriculture, fisheries, international heritage or market surveillance purposes. The Single Window aims to streamline this process, so that businesses no longer have to submit documents to several different authorities through different portals and that authorities can pursue an automatic cross-verification of submitted information.

On 28 October 2020, the European Commission published its proposal for a Regulation establishing the European Union Single Window Environment for Customs. According to the proposal, 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. The aim is that national Single Windows will replace the multitude of different portals used by the different authorities responsible for border checks. The use of digital tools is supposed to strengthen cooperation and information exchange among government authorities at the border, between customs authorities and other partner competent authorities and between authorities and traders themselves.

However, the Commission recognizes that the proposal is just the first step in creating the Single Window Environment for customs. Important investment will be needed at both EU and Member State level, with gradual implementation over the next decade. Member States will need to invest in transforming their national legislation, processes and IT systems. The proposal includes also provisions for both EU technical and financial support to Member States.

At the European Parliament, the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) has been referred as responsible committee. The rapporteur MEP Ivan ŠTEFANEC (EPP, SK) has presented his report on 12 May 2021, and amendments were tabled on 17 June 2021. On 11 October the IMCO Committee adopted the report on the Commission proposal.

With regard to interoperability and harmonisation of systems, Members considered that it is necessary to achieve effective interoperability and standardisation of electronic systems. These systems should be based on uniform technical specifications set by the Commission. These should provide common data sets for all applications, declarations and notifications, for an interoperable and common IT solution, and ensure that decisions issued by national administrations are valid throughout the Union. The Commission should provide training and support to the teams working on the creation, design and maintenance of national single window environments for customs.

Members also proposed setting up a working group - composed of representatives of the Commission and national coordinators - to discuss, at technical level, the progress of the implementation of the national Single Window environments for customs. They also suggested that other customs and non-customs formalities be added to the EU Single Window environment and the EU CSW-CERTEX system.

Members suggested that the list of tasks mandated to the national coordinator for the EU single window environment for customs should be extended to include the obligation to follow on the uniform adoption of technical specifications for the national single window environment.

In the interests of consistency and coordination between the EU Customs Code and this regulation, Members considered it necessary to include the Multiannual Strategic Plan for Electronic Customs (MASP-C), which should provide for the development of electronic customs systems at European level, with a view to creating a European electronic customs environment.

On the basis of Rule 71 of Rules of Procedures of the European Parliament, Committee decision to enter into interinstitutional negotiations was announced in plenary on 18 October 2021, and it was confirmed by the plenary on 20 October 2021. On 11 November 2021, Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading. 

In the Council, on 15 December 2021, the Committee of Permanent Representatives granted the negotiating mandate.

After trilogues, on 19 May 2022, Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement. Under the “‘EU Single Window Environment for Customs” proposal, businesses and traders will be able to provide customs and non-customs data required for goods clearance and to complete the formalities in one single portal in a given member state, thereby reducing duplication, time and costs.

With the EU “Single Window”, customs and other authorities could automatically verify that the goods in question comply with EU requirements and that the necessary formalities have been completed, thus 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. This would benefit both businesses and consumers.

Parliament negotiations managed to clarify the scope of EU non-customs systems connected to the Single Window and to ensure its structure is future-proof. The government to government systems should be connected to the portal by 2025, while business to government interfaces should be connected within 9 years. Guarantees to ensure that the systems are designed and interconnected with high levels of cyber security and protection of personal data, were also included in the text.

The regulation now needs to be formally adopted by Parliament and Council before it is published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force 20 days after.




Further reading:

For further information: Stefano Spinaci, Members' Research Service,

As of 20/05/2022.