The EU proposes World Customs Organization modernisation

By Francesca Poggiali, GS1 global office, 01 July 2021
The EU has presented for the first time an initiative for a broad reform of the World Customs Organization (WCO). The modernisation initiative would help strengthen the WCO's position as a key multilateral institution and help it address developments in today's ever-changing international trade environment more effectively, while supporting the green and digital transitions
Since its establishment almost 65 years ago, the WCO has never undergone a comprehensive reform despite the deep shifts in international trade and new challenges faced by national customs administrations. In particular, the EU sees the need for clearer prioritisation of the WCO's work in line with the challenges for the next decades, improvements in its governance and decision-making process, and in its efficiency.

In brief, the EU's submission includes a three-step approach towards strategic reform:

First, the WCO should have a greater focus on strategic priorities reflecting the most important challenges of the 21st In particular, the WCO should focus on the digitalisation of customs and the use of data, including in dealing with the rise in e-commerce and exchange of information; the contribution of customs to the protection of the environment and the green agenda; the development of single window approaches and coordinated border management to simplify customs clearance for businesses; and the strengthening of risk management by customs authorities.

Second, governance methods at the WCO should be further addressed so that the Organization can play its full role in a dynamic international environment. Transparency, institutional and decision-making processes must be improved, while making the best use of the resources at the Organization's disposal.

Third, the means by which the WCO is funded should be examined to ensure long-term sustainability of the Organization to improve its standing in the global multilateral architecture, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and as part of the economic recovery.

For more information please contact Francesca Poggiali.