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The gradual harmonization of customs legislation and customs procedures with EU legislation is a change in the philosophy of Ukrainian customs

The difficult path of customs reform, the challenges that still need to be overcome, and the ambitious prospects for building a modern customs system in line with European standards were discussed during the roundtable: "TheFuture of Ukrainian Customs in the Context of Ukraine's Accession to the European Union", organized by the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting.

"Gradual harmonization of our customs legislation and customs procedures with the EU legislation is a change in the philosophy of the customs authorities. This requires time, effort, and training for customs officers and businesses, starting with professional educational institutions. We are working with higher education institutions to change the curricula so that specialists graduate with a new understanding of all the processes of the already reformed customs," said Oleksandr Moskalenko, Director of the Customs Policy Department of the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine.

He also noted that the implementation of the reforms is accompanied by a lot of preparatory work and hard work of customs officers to facilitate the transition of business from national simplifications to European formats: the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) system, NCTS (the so-called "customs visa-free regime"), to significantly increase the number of authorizations, etc.

"We cannot protect all businesses from all the difficulties of the transition, but it is important to understand that more than 80% of European businesses use authorizations and customs simplifications, which are actually the main system of customs clearance in the European Union. The introduction of new European rules radically changes the landscape of control over customs processes and strengthening the anti-corruption component," emphasized Olexandr Moskalenko, as the transition from national simplifications to European procedures on November 07, 2023, reduced direct contact between businesses and customs officials to obtain possible informal "authorizations" for the national simplifications of exports and imports without visiting terminals, which have been canceled today.

Regarding EU accession

As of today, the European Commission has submitted a draft negotiation framework for Ukraine to the EU Council - this is the 5th step out of 9. The next step is approval by the EU Council and bilateral negotiations with each EU member state.

Much attention is paid to the digital transformation of the Customs Service. According to the Ukraine Facilities program, which has already received EUR 4.5 billion in support this year, the development and implementation of customs IT in accordance with EU standards is, in fact, Ukraine's main obligation in the customs area.

Olexandr Moskalenko noted that customs in the EU is regulated mainly by regulations (directives). The introduction of European regulations that do not require the development of additional regulations for their implementation in the national legislation of the EU countries, on the one hand, facilitates the process of bringing Ukrainian legislation in line with EU legislation, on the other hand, does not give room for free interpretation.

He also outlined the possible timeframe for customs reform to join the EU in the context of the announced wave of the next EU enlargement in 2030: 2029 - finalization of all bilateral negotiations; 2028 - bilateral diplomatic work with parliaments; 2027 - one year of application of European legislation in Ukraine; 2026 - approval of bylaws of the new legislation; 2025 - a new Customs Code of Ukraine should be adopted; 2024 - development of a draft of the new Customs Code of Ukraine based on the EU Customs Code.

The presentation of the draft of the Customs Code of Ukraine is currently scheduled for December this year, followed by its discussion with business and other stakeholders.

Ministry of Finance

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