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Sur la nécessité de simplifier la réglementation douanière


  • Ghenadie Radu


It’s a well known fact, that customs regulations, as applied in the territory of the European Union (EU), is particularly complex. Companies working in international trade do not hesitate to denounce this situation, where an essential regulation as the customs one has become so much difficult to master, as it is viewed more and more often as a significant barrier to international trade. It is high time to start a deep reflection, followed by concrete actions, in order to try to simplify these rules; it is time to encourage the legislator to address the issue and to offer users of international trade simpler customs legislation, but also more effective. Customs rules shall consist of three layers of standards that intermingle: international, European and national standards. International standards, that have a link with customs matters, are taken for most of the agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and in particular of the Annex 1A (Multilateral Agreements on Trade in Goods) of the Agreement establishing the WTO (1994). This Annex, of a paramount importance for the successful organization of modern international trade, consists of thirteen different agreements, some of which being directly related with the customs and cover the following mechanisms: anti-dumping measures; anti-subsidy measures; rules of origin; procedures and import licenses; customs valuation; pre-shipment inspection; technical barriers to trade; sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures. Many other international standards in customs matters were adopted under the auspices of the World Customs Organization (WCO), including two conventions of utmost importance, namely: the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System and the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures. Concerning the European rules in customs matters, they are part of the Community Customs Code (CDC, 1992) and its implementing provisions (IP, 1993). The Customs Code of the Union (CCU, 2013) is currently not applicable, except for a few articles that allow the European Commission to continue the work of drafting the implementing provisions of the Code, whose text should enter into force on 1st May 2016. Regarding the national standards, the specificity of the European Customs Union lies in the fact that each EU Member State has its own National Customs Code, which is very difficult to live operationally by businesses because some regulatory elements, especially those relating to customs penalties, differ from one EU country to another. The CDC contains now 253 articles, its implementing provisions spreading over 915 articles, and this without counting its 113 annexes. The French Customs Code has, meanwhile, 470 articles. A simple mathematical calculation allows us to say that the European and French customs regulations alones account for 1,408 articles (!), without taking into account the innumerable free trade agreements texts concluded by the EU and other unilateral preferences that it grants. To date, because of its complexity, customs regulations pose implementation problems for its most important mechanisms such as the tariff classification of goods, the determination of country of origin, the custom values of goods, the regimes and customs procedures. A question arises: customs law is not become too excessive, to the point of turning against the international trade companies themselves? What would be the solutions in order to simplify the customs legislation and make it more understandable for users? These solutions are not lacking, but the implementation of a solution or the other largely depends on the political will of the national and EU legislature. In order to begin, we could imagine reducing the volume of legal standards by two or by three. We could consider the establishment of a single Customs Code of the Union, leaving at the same time the twenty eight national customs codes of the member countries of the EU, but also the establishment of a single European Customs administration. We could also strengthen the system of “electronic customs”, which ultimately means less errors and other omissions in the declaratory process. Finally, we could improve the system of training in customs matters, which is undoubtedly one of the keys for understanding the operation of the customs phenomenon as a whole: a company with well-trained staff to customs techniques will ultimately not only have improved relations with the Customs (“Customs-Business” partnership), but may also use this knowledge to better define its development strategy internationally.

Suggested Citation

  • Ghenadie Radu, 2015. "Sur la nécessité de simplifier la réglementation douanière," Revue internationale de droit économique, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(3), pages 357-372.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:riddbu:ride_293_0357

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