circular economy,  compliance e AEO,  free trade agreement

EU Customs Reform: AEO, environment, simplifications and digitalization

On 17.05.2023 the EU Commission released the communication “ Customs reform: Taking the Customs Union to the next level” COM(2023) 257 final.

This interesting document starts with a short message of Ursula von der Leyen for which “…It is time to take the Customs Union to the next level, equipping it with a stronger framework that will allow us to better protect our citizens and our Single Market. I will propose a bold package for an integrated European approach to reinforce customs risk management and support effective controls by the Member States…”.


The three principles on which is based the reform of the european customs are:

  • An efficient Customs Union with simplified and modernised customs procedures;
  • geopolitical Customs Union, capable of better defending the financial interest of the EU and its Member States;
  • agile and future-proof Customs Union, adapting flexibly to changes in supply chains, be it the twin green and digital transitions in the ongoing decade, or future developments in supply chain management.


The reform of both the UCC and the customs regulations covers the following layers of simplifications:

  • A first set of measures will reduce formalities for all traders, yet without reducing customs’ control capabilities;
  • A second set of simplifications will be applicable only to a selected group of ‘Trust and Check traders’, building on and improving the existing concept of Authorised Economic Operators (AEO);
  • A third set for which the reform will put in place a tailor-made customs regime for e-commerce, to reduce the compliance costs linked to processing e-commerce and establish full transparency for consumers.


This approach is based on the assumption for which “…In an ideal world, procedures for compliant trade flows would therefore be simple, accessible and fully automated. Customs would then be able to focus their resources to better target risks and carry out controls in the least disruptive way…”.


For the AEO companies, the European Commission states that:

  • A small group of selected ‘Trust and Check traders’ will benefit from even greater simplifications that would reduce to a minimum paperwork and formalities. Transparent trade flows will be able to move via ‘green lanes’ without formal customs interaction and free of administrative burden, while customs will request a control only if necessary;
  • As EU Customs will have a full supply chain overview for these ‘Trust and Check traders’, they could be authorised by customs to self-monitor the compliance of their goods under certain conditions, release the goods on behalf of the customs authorities and pay duties periodically, without submitting transaction-based customs declarations per consignment.

EU Customs Data Hub will be developed and rolled out over time, building on some and integrating other existing customs IT systems and the Digital Product Passport, including those to be implemented under the ongoing UCC IT reform; it should be operative from 2028.

Finally this news should be read with the other ones about the “Special report 13/2023: Authorised Economic Operators – Solid customs programme with untapped potential and uneven implementation” and  “…Replies of the European Commission to the European Court of Auditors special report…”.