Interview with Reinhard Fischer, Chair of the Customs Working Group

On 23 April 2008, the regulation (EC) No 450/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council sets the Modernised Customs Code (MCC) which was aimed at the adaptation of customs legislation to integrate and govern the electronic environment for customs and trade, including postal operators. This Regulation entered into force on 24 June 2008 and was due to be applicable once its implementing provisions were in force by 24 June 2013.

However, the European Commission (EC) proposed on 20 February 2012 to revise the MCC as a Union Customs Code (UCC) before it becomes applicable for mainly two reasons:

  1. Only a very limited number or even no new customs IT systems were introduced in June 2013, the latest legal date for the implementation of the MCC.
  2. The Lisbon Treaty obliged the EC to propose amendments to all basic acts in order to align them with the Lisbon strategy regarding delegation of powers and the conferral of implementing powers.

This had an impact on the foreseen implementing provisions of the MCC, which has been discussed in close co-operation between the PostEurop Customs working group and the EU Commission.   There should be a split between delegated acts and implementing acts in accordance with new empowerments in line with Articles 290 and 291 of the Treaty of the Functioning of Europe (TFEU).

The UCC was adopted on 9 October 2013 as Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council and entered into force on 30 October 2013. The full implementation will start on 1 May 2016. The application of the provisions of the Regulation which depend on the use of electronic data-processing techniques and electronic systems will benefit from a transitional period which should not go beyond 31 December 2020.

Until 1 May 2016 the Community Customs Code and its implementing provisions continue to apply.

PostEurop welcomes the announcement by the EU Commission that this year it will be possible to comment on the proposals of the UCC’s Delegated and Implementing Acts. It is therefore essential that all European postal operators will support the work of the PostEurop Customs working group.

In an exclusive interview with the Chair of the Customs working group, Mr. Reinhard Fischer PostEurop had the opportunity to discuss the developments and the impact on postal operators.

Can you explain which kind of legal challenges are in front of us?

With the publication of the Delegated and Implementing Acts drafts, the EU Commission has re-opened the discussion on issues which were deemed to be solved with the old Implementing Provision on the Modernised Customs Code (MCC). Therefore, we have to keep an eye on all legal definitions and the clearance process itself. Data which should be provided by postal operators as electronic information in advance or with regard to the so called temporary storage is another area of concern.

Is there any date which should be monitored by the postal community?

With regard to the DA or IA,  1 May 2016 will be an important date. But we should not forget that there are ongoing discussions in the Postal Export Group on the advanced electronic information. This means that there is a certain possibility for changes before 2016.

What can postal operators do to be involved in the discussions?

First of all, cooperation with their national customs authority is key. There should be a close communication about the upcoming EU challenges, their feasibility in the operational processes and the compliance with the national legislation. As a result, Post and Customs should speak with one voice which allows a reinforced position of all EU players in the discussion with the EU Commission. For an active support, I would like to motivate all of my colleagues to participate in the PostEurop Customs Working Group. This invitation includes Non-EU European postal operators because the upcoming burden is on them as well.

“We are running out of time. I would not like to be in a position to wake up from a customs nightmare and recognise that the reality is much worse. If we want to influence the process - let's do it now.” – Reinhard Fischer

You have mentioned the advanced electronic information. What is the impact on the postal process?

We should not forget that any introduction of EU import requirements for the advanced electronic information - we call it ENS (Entry Summary Declaration) - will trigger the same requirements by other countries. With regard to security requirements there is always reciprocity. But are we really prepared to capture the ENS information in every postal office, including from private consumers? What kind of cost and liability is linked to such requirement? And how do we define the interface to the carriers on Do-Not-Load scenarios? Following the discussion on data protection, do we have a real understanding about the legal impact and the position of the European Parliament? Depending on the answers, the ENS will create a huge impact on the postal process. I do not want to speculate about sense and nonsense of the ENS information to be used for risk analysis.

With regard to the new legislation, do you see simplifications for the clearance process of postal operators?

Unfortunately, most of the old and new simplifications are now linked to the status of the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO). Because of the special type of business we are in, I find it very difficult for postal operators to apply for such a certification. Therefore we should have it on the radar what kind of simplifications can be delivered outside of the AEO concept.

PostEurop, April 2014


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