Joint Customs Consultative Committee
Meeting: February 2013
Agenda Item: 4
Author: Peter Starling
UCC - State of Play
The Lisbon Treaty introduced changes to how the Commission Regulations can be enacted. Basically, all Commission Regulations used to have to be negotiated with experts from all 27 member states; and agreed by "qualified majority" – a way of allocating votes to each member state basically on the basis of population. In the future, only some have to be negotiated in this way, and only some of them will then need a vote. And only some of them will need qualified majority support.
All such legislation starts with a proposal from the European Commission (who are the only body that can make such a proposal). This proposal is then discussed separately by the European Parliament and the European Council.
Council and EP (separately) consider what amendments they think are needed. Then all 3 get together for the "trilogue" discussions where the final version is agreed for final ratification by each body.
Then it is translated into all the Community languages for publication.
The Union Customs Code proposal was submitted by the Commission in Feb 2012.
Council finished its work on agreeing its "compromise" text on 25 January.
EP finished deciding its proposed amendments in December and will (we hope) agree a mandate for the trilogue discussions on 21 February.
Trilogue is scheduled for March/April.
Translation of the "final" version will take around 6 weeks.
The final Regulation has to be published at the very start of June, at the latest, to replace the Modernised Customs Code. And has to be formally ratified by Council and EP first.
Where are we now?
We have the Council's proposed version, the European Parliament's version and of course the original proposal from the Commission.
Trilogue discussions will soon be underway – the Council is represented by the current Presidency, Ireland. We expect the trilogue to start in late February, though it is possible there will be some informal discussions in advance of 21 Feb.
So we now have a pause in the negotiations work, pending reports back on the trilogue.
We thus have an idea what each side wants, but can't be sure whether any of the changes proposed by Council will be in the final published version (clearly we hope the vast majority will be).
The below is a study of the Council Compromise text.
Centralised Clearance – is retained. Confirmation that goods have been presented on arrival will be required. Even if CC covers UK national procedures, the need for an authorisation would be removed courtesy an addition to paragraph 1. All supporting rules will be laid down by implementing act under the examination procedure - so a vote for MS. Authorisations - AEO(c) only
Self Assessment – no detail, all for a delegated act and an implementing act. Authorisations - AEO(c) only.
Simplifications – key simplifications such as the ability for airlines to move goods in their own records is maintained. AEO(c)'s holding goods in "temporary storage" will be able to move goods around the EU just recording the movement in their own records. Movements between different traders (but within one member state) will also be allowed; as will "other movements" to be covered in a delegated act.
Guarantees – Tried and lost the argument for a guarantee waiver for deferment charges - Commission were willing to consider if all MS agreed, not all did. The principle remains that guarantees will be required for any customs charges not already paid, but this guarantee can be reduced or waived completely if the trader meets certain criteria (based on AEO). Control by audit rather than transaction monitoring will be agreed - certainly for temporary storage, and reason to hope the Commission will accept that approach more generally.
Valuation - Commission finally bowed to pressure from both EP and Council and we can be confident that an implementing provision allowing for successive sales will be included in the final text. Further work will be needed to secure acceptable text in that implementing act.
Temporary Storage - is bound to be a status (as now) rather than a procedure. Commission's aim is to have "no change", this inevitably will be "minimum change" as at least data sets will be harmonised. Council proposes TS be time limited to 90 days, without possibility of extension, instead of the current 21/45 days.
The trilogue meetings take as long as they take, but working on the presumption they are concluded just after Easter, we should see the final text – at least what was agreed in Trilogue - soon afterwards. That will give us pretty much the definite text of the UCC (just a small chance that either Council or EP will reject it).
Work then moves to the (delegated and implementing) Commission Regulations. Those negotiations potentially have to be complete by Autumn 2014; and there are likely to be around 10 times the number of Articles in those Regulations to this one.