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Taxation and Customs Union

Main players for international trade 2004-2009-2014


Table 1
Source: Eurostat
(¹) External trade flows with extra EU-28

More than 90 % of global trade (8.4 billion tons of merchandise) is carried annually by sea, along more than 25 800 global trade lanes.

More than 20 % of this seaborne trade is unloaded in Europe. There are 25 400 transport nodes world-wide for cargo and passengers moved by air, a substantial proportion of which are linked to more than 250 international airports in the EU.

The eastern land border is 9 890 km long, with 133 commercial road and rail entry points. Along the entire EU external border there are more than 1 000 customs offices of entry.

Although the bulk of trade is lawful, a study by the World Economic Forum estimates illicit trade to be between 8 % and 15 % of the global GDP, however, the scale of illicit trade is, by nature, difficult to quantify.

Its cost to the global economy is considerable and estimated to be over EUR 2.5 trillion, all aspects combined.

In 2014, EU customs processed 41.5 million pre-arrival cargo declarations (entry summary declarations or ENS), 152.6 million import declarations, 109.8 million export declarations and 16.4 million transit declarations. These figures represent an average of 609 declarations per minute handled by the Member States’ customs administrations.

The work load of customs authorities is constantly increasing evolution.

Between 2011-2014

  • The number of ENS increased by 15.2%
  • The number of Import declarations by 9%
  • The number of Export declarations by 14.38%
  • The number of Transit declarations by 16.4%