Fabian Demicoli

GRTU’s participation on the European consultation on the Modernised Customs Code

Mr Paul Abela and Mr Vincent Farrugia President and Director General of GRTU – Malta Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises attended the 56th Executive Board meeting of CONFIAD Pan European Network. Mr Vincent Farrugia is the Vice-President of the Executive Board of CONFIAD which is the European organization representing the national association of Customs Clearance Professionals. Maltese licensed Customs Clearance Agents are members of GRTU.

GRTU News Release
Malta Chamber for Small and Medium Enterprises

GRTU’s participation on the European consultation on the Modernised Customs Code

Mr Paul Abela and Mr Vincent Farrugia President and Director General of GRTU – Malta Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises attended the 56th Executive Board meeting of CONFIAD Pan European Network. Mr Vincent Farrugia is the Vice-President of the Executive Board of CONFIAD which is the European organization representing the national association of Customs Clearance Professionals. Maltese licensed Customs Clearance Agents are members of GRTU.

The main item on the Agenda was the draft proposal of the Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union (TAXUD) for the Modernisation of the Community Customs Code. The Community Customs Code has not been reformed for more than 20 years and an extensive programme of consultations have been undertaken by TAXUD to bring forth a consensus on reform of this fundamental European Code that governs the operations of the Community Internal Market in its relationship with the international trading community.

GRTU on behalf of Maltese Customs Agents has through CONFIAD Pan European Network, participated in all the consultation sessions.

During the 56th Executive Board Meeting of CONFIAD held in Lisbon on the 15th and 16th of April considered a position paper presented by GRTU Malta that states the following:

CONFIAD Position on the proposed draft Modernised Customs Code
1. The draft proposals contain therein a number of amendments to the current Community Customs Code that present a real social and economic threat to the employment of thousand of professional customs clearance professionals and other technical, executive and clerical staff that have with dedication given excellent service that was fundamental for the growth of the economies of the member states of the European Union. The service of Custom Clearance Professionals has ensured a high level of security in customs operations as the economies of Europe became increasingly dependent on international trade and the professional service of clearance agents is recognized as fundamental for the collection and safeguard of taxation due at all customs posts of the majority of EU member states.

2. The draft proposals presented by TAXUD have created a widespread and serious situation of economic and social uncertainty that is precluding professional enterprises in the customs clearance sector from expanding and investing further and from expanding their labour force while the Commissioners for Taxation and Customs Union continue to ponder on various drafts and amendments that are not backed by a professional social and economic impact assessment and in the absence of an agreement on content and procedures with all stakeholders. Furthermore the Commissioner for TAXUD has not produced a mitigation plan that will meet the negative impact of the proposals for a Modernised Customs Code.

3. While TAXUD state that the economic impact on the expected growth of the GDP of the European Union is one main objective of the proposed draft modernized custom code, there is no scientific measure of the expected economic gain and no specific argument has been presented as to how and in what form the role of Professional Customs Clearance Agents under the present system is precluding any economy of any member state of the Union from fulfilling its obligations under the Lisbon Agenda. The Board of CONFIAD contends that this issue must be cleared with urgency as European Union economies cannot currently sustain options that rather than growth and economic expansion lead to further unemployment and further difficulties to trade.

4. TAXUD is basing its arguments in favour of a drastically reduced role for the Professional Customs Agents and the creation of a new Authorised Economic Operator on the proposed liberalization of services caused by the proposed Services Directive. CONFIAD contends that the Services Directive as proposed does not refer to Customs Professionals and furthermore now that the proposed Services Directive has been shelved the Commissioner responsible for Taxation and the Customs Union should state publicly that the intention of the Commissioner to proceed with the proposals for a Modernized Customs Code will only become implemented after all comprehensive studies have been concluded and after an agreement is reached with all stakeholders and definitely after an agreement with the legitimate representatives of Customs Clearance Professionals.

5. The Board of CONFIAD in an expression of cooperation with the Commission of TAXUD to produce an agreed proposal for reform of the Community Customs Code acceptable to Customs Professionals is presenting its views on all the draft amendments presented so far by TAXUD thus ensuring that whatever final draft document emerges will be in line with the views of Customs Clearance Professionals.

6. The Board of CONFIAD expresses its solidarity with all Customs Clearance Professions and confirms its unwavering intention to intensify its campaign to have the European Commission recognize the serious technical and economic faults of its current proposals and remedy the situation through a serious and comprehensive agreement with CONFIAD as the recognized representative of the European Customs Clearance Professionals.

For Release
April 20, 2005

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