WCO addresses the Customs Union Group under the EU Maltese Presidency

11 January 2017

At the invitation of the Maltese Presidency of the European Union (EU), WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya addressed delegates from the 28 EU Member States attending the meeting of the Customs Union Group on 11 January 2017 in Brussels.

Congratulating Malta on assuming the role of the EU Presidency for the first time, Secretary General Mikuriya wished the Presidency and delegates every success as they faced a challenging year for Customs.

He outlined the extensive work programme of the WCO for the coming year, putting particular emphasis on Customs’ role in the fight against terrorism, the security of trade, the safety of countries’ citizens, trade facilitation, and cooperation with the private sector, tax authorities and police. The Secretary General also said that work would continue on e-commerce, “Digital Customs,” data analysis, and the fight against infringements of intellectual property rights (IPR).

In order to deliver this extensive programme, the WCO would look to EU Member States for assistance, particularly with regards to the delivery of capacity building. The WCO would also continue to raise Customs’ profile, enabling its role in economic development to be recognized. A number of events, such as the IT Conference, the Technology & Innovation Forum and fora on origin and transit, would be organized, allowing further discussions on important topics.

Mr Stephen Quest, the Director General of the European Commission’s Taxation and Customs Union Directorate (DG TAXUD), explained the main issues arising for the EU in the coming year. He stressed the important challenges posed by security issues, and noted the convergence and complementarity between the objectives of the EU and those of the WCO.

Director General Quest recalled the many highlights of 2016 that underpinned much of the work for the coming year. He said that great importance would be assigned to the implementation of the Union Customs Code taking into account the need for a digital solution, while acknowledging the constraints on financial resources.

In addition, the Director General said that there was a need for enhanced cooperation with other bodies, including the police, other border agencies and tax authorities. Finally, Mr Quest emphasized the global role of the EU in assisting in the implementation of various agendas of interest to Customs, highlighting the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a prime example.

Secretary General Mikuriya thanked the Maltese Presidency for the opportunity to address the Customs Union Group in what had now become a feature of the first meeting of the Customs Union Group every year.