Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the 'Customs' programme for cooperation in the field of customs

In “An Economy that Works for People”

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For a brief overview of the key points of the adopted text and its significance for the citizen, please see the corresponding summary note.

The European Commission's proposal for a Regulation establishing the 'Customs' programme for cooperation in the field of customs' was presented on 8 June 2018 and forms part of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the years 2021-2027.

The programme proposed by the Commission replaces ‘Customs 2020’ that covered the period up to 31 December 2020. This provided the funds to support actions in view of modernising and improving the functioning of the customs union and cooperation among customs authorities of the participating countries.

The proposal of the Commission institutes a new Customs programme for the next MFF period 2021-2027. The proposal therefore repeals Regulation (EU) No 1294/2013 with effect from 1 January 2021, but transitional provisions ensures the continued application of that regulation to allow modification of actions undertaken under the customs 2020 programme until their closure.

Under article 3, the main programme objectives remain similar to those of the previous programme. The specific objectives (article 3) instead are to support the preparation and uniform implementation of customs legislation and policy as well as to promote customs cooperation and administrative capacity building, including human competency and the development and operation of European electronic systems.

Customs cooperation will operate by building capacity in the following two areas:

  • First, human networking and competency building actions, including the exchange of good practices and operational knowledge.
  • Second, information technology (IT) capacity building actions will fund new IT infrastructure and systems.

An important change from the previous programme is that the programme actions will now also be open to third countries, which are not European neighbourhood countries or acceding or candidates’ countries. This provision can be used inter alia in the framework of Brexit talks on the future EU-UK partnership.

Co-financing rates provisions were changed. The Union financing can go up to 100% of eligible actions' costs. But IT capacity building falling under Member States' responsibility must still be covered by the Member States.

The programme has a financial envelope of € 843 million (in 2018 prices) for the period 2021–2027, up from € 536 million (in 2018 prices) in the MFF 2014-2020.

The European Parliament and the Council reached political agreement on the 2021-2027 MFF and new own resources in November 2020. On 16 and 17 December the European Parliament and the Council, gave their consents to the next multiannual financial framework.

Legislative Procedure

In the European Parliament, the proposal is being examined by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO). The appointed rapporteur is Maria Grapini (S&D, Romania). She presented her draft report on 19 October 2018. Amendments to the draft report have been tabled in the Committee on 19 November 2018. The committees for opinion are the Budgets Committee (BUDG) and the Budgetary Control Committee (CONT).

The report was voted in IMCO on 6 December 2018. It emphasises that by modernising customs processes, the customs programme can be essential in fostering economic activity and growth through the enhancement of the competitiveness of the European Industry and through the facilitation of trade, as well as ensure the protection of consumers. The report stresses that the customs programme should be coherent and exploit all synergies with other EU programmes and funds, while its implementation should respect the principles of transparency, proportionality, equal treatment and non-discrimination. The report further underlines that customs administration and control is a dynamic field whose requirements change with the political and other evolution of society. To this end, the programme should support customs management, especially in terms of the IT field, allow innovation and the creation of innovative solutions in the field of customs policy.

On 16 December 2018, the Council adopted partial negotiating mandate on the proposal. The Parliament adopted its position on the new customs programme on 15 January 2019. The matter has been referred back to the Committee to initiate inter-institutional negotiations, but these were postponed until constituting the new European Parliament. A plenary debate was held in Parliament on 3 April 2019, followed by a vote closing the first reading on 16 April 2019. On 8 October IMCO approved a decision to open inter-institutional negotiations after first reading in Parliament.

The European Parliament has decided to resume work on the file. The concluding trilogue on the Customs programme was held on 15 December 2020 followed by a concluding technical meeting. The outcome of the interinstitutional agreement was acceptable to both institutions.

The provisional agreement was endorsed in Coreper on 18 December 2020, and on 11 January 2021 the provisional agreement was endorsed in IMCO.

The final text of the Council’s first reading position was adopted on 1 March 2021. IMCO committee adopted the recommendation for the second reading of the Parliament on ‘Customs’ programme on 8 March 2021. The President of the European Parliament declared the Council's position at first reading approved without amendments on 10 March 2021. The final act has been signed on 11 March 2021. The Regulation (EU) 2021/444 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2021 establishing the Customs programme for cooperation in the field of customs and repealing Regulation (EU) No 1294/2013 was published in the Official Journal on 15 March 2021. The Regulation entered into force on the day of publication and it is applied from 1 January 2021.

Author: Miroslava Karaboytcheva, Members' Research Service,

As of 20/05/2023.