Anyone working in this industry knows that technological changes – particularly in regards to new IT systems – can be difficult to implement. Given this truth we are not surprised that last week the European Union published an amendment to the Union Customs Code (UCC) legislation, allowing an extension to the final deadline for roll-out to 2025. That’s a full five years beyond the initial plan.
Whilst the UCC has been applied since May 2016, transition time exists to allow the customs systems of all member states to be fully aligned, automated, and up to speed with modern trade. The technical challenge in upgrading various systems means that the EU now sees the 2020 deadline as overly optimistic. According to the text of the proposal:
The Commission and the Member States are on track to finish the major part of the work on the electronic systems on time … However, the last phases of development of IT systems are often the longest and therefore, while most systems will be completed by 2020, some will only be partially completed….
…For all of these reasons, it has become necessary to provide for a later date (2025 at the latest) for full completion of work on some of the systems. This target date will ensure the smooth implementation by 2020 of the majority of the systems and the later implementation of the remaining systems, in proper sequence, on dates between 2021 and 2025.
See below for link to full text.
Implications for Brexit
This delay due to the difficulty in getting IT systems updated should be an obvious warning sign for the UK and its preparations for Brexit. According to published plans the government is aiming for “frictionless” borders with the EU, and suggests that technology will be key in achieving this. Given the EUs current experience in implementing systems for UCC, this may not prove to be so simple.