WCO addresses Working Party on Customs Union under Croatia's EU Council Presidency

14 January 2020

At the invitation of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya attended a meeting of the EU Working Party on Customs Union (Customs Union Group - CUG), held on 10 January 2020 in Brussels, Belgium to present the WCO’s outlook for 2020.

Croatia shared its priorities, as encapsulated in the motto “A strong Europe in a world of challenges,” and promised to focus on maintaining an influential Europe.

After congratulating Croatia on taking over the Presidency of the Council of the EU for the first time, Dr. Mikuriya went on to outline the WCO’s strategic projects to envision and design the future of Customs, including the Environmental Scan and work to assess the use of disruptive technologies and data analytics tools. In this connection, he stressed the importance of communication for positioning Customs as a major player along the global supply chain. Secretary General Mikuriya explained the current status of WCO instruments, such as the Revised Kyoto Convention, E-Commerce Package and the Harmonized System, as well as the implementation aspects of various WCO tools, including those for performance measurement. He provided insights into the WCO’s related work programmes and elaborated on the Organization’s theme for 2020: "Customs fostering Sustainability for People, Prosperity and the Planet”. This theme was being backed up by tangible actions, such as environmental operations addressing illegal waste and wildlife trafficking.

Mr. Stephen Quest, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD), also outlined the main issues to be addressed by the EU in order to bolster the Customs Union and take it to the next level. Its work programme covered: Protection, including a review of the Risk Management Strategy and EU-level data analytical capabilities; Compliance, with a focus on Single Window legislation, the role of E-Commerce platforms and AEOs; and Governance, through the rollout of IT systems and performance measurement tools. He welcomed the fact that the WCO’s priorities were closely aligned with those of the EU, including the European Green Deal.

Secretary General Mikuriya concluded by thanking the Croatian Presidency for the opportunity to address the CUG, in what had now become a tradition at its first meeting every year.