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Taxation and Customs Union
News article17 September 20212 min read

High-level group to lead reflection on future of EU Customs Union

On 17 September, the European Commission announced that it has created a new special group tasked with identifying innovative solutions for the most pressing challenges of the European Customs Union. 

The Group will be headed by former Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain, Ms. Arancha González Laya, with the support of Vice-chair Ms. Mateja Vraničar Erman, Adviser to the Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Minister of Finance.

With 900 million consignments worth almost €4 trillion per year, the EU is the largest trading bloc in the world. Digitalisation, globalisation and the changing nature of trade present new opportunities as well as new challenges. Efficient customs clearance and controls are essential to protect EU citizens and businesses.

The explosion of e-commerce, in particular, challenges customs authorities, who are faced with a huge inflow of small value consignments whose potential financial, counterfeit, safety and security risks are difficult to control. The EU Green Deal means additional stringent environmental legislations and harmonised and strengthened standards. In her political guidelines, President von der Leyen called to “take the Customs Union to the next level, equipping it with a stronger framework that will allow us to better protect our citizens and our single market.”

The new Wise Persons Group on Challenges facing the Customs Union will advise the EU institutions and the Member States on how to prepare for new business models and technological developments, and how to efficiently manage the Customs Union to ensure agile and robust customs processes to accelerate the twin digital and green transition. The group will also be looking at the governance structure and customs tasks at the EU and national levels. The creation of the group follows a year-long foresight process, on the future of the European Union’s Customs Union, its relevance and its effectiveness in the long-term, run by the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy, said:

To adequately prepare for the future of the Customs Union, we need new ideas from people with extensive experience and knowledge, and who are used to think outside the box. I look forward to the Group’s proposals on how customs can work more efficiently to the benefit of our citizens and businesses.

Participation of Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner, to the high-level meeting of the Customs Wise Persons Group

Wise Persons Group Chair Arancha González Laya said:

The Customs Union means prosperity, jobs and growth for Europeans. It is an honour to be asked to lead efforts to ensure it remains fit for purpose in a changing trade and technology landscape.

Participation of Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner, to the high-level meeting of the Customs Wise Persons Group

The members, coming from politics, industry, trade and academia, will deliver a final report that will inform the inter-institutional debate by Spring 2022. All members will be participating in a personal capacity. The full list of members is available below.

Members of the Wise Persons Group on Challenges facing the Customs Union


For more information, check the Wise Persons Group webpage


Publication date
17 September 2021