The session was hosted by Directorate A – Customs and Unit A.1 – Customs Policy, responsible for the implementation of the Instrument. 58 participants attended the session in representation of equipment manufacturers and service providers, as well as industry stakeholders organisations, coming from Europe, Asia and the United States.
Several bilateral meetings with equipment manufacturers and service providers also took place on November 19 with nine companies that had requested it. The purpose of these bilateral meetings was for the companies to present their products and features relevant to the CCEI.
The presentation used at the session as well as a summary of the questions and answers discussed are provided in order to ensure that the information is accessible to all interested parties that did not have the chance to join the events. All the companies participating in the Information Session and the bilateral exchanges were registered in the EU Transparency Register.
Summary of the session
The session was opened by the Director of Customs at DG TAXUD, who highlighted the relevance and the important role of the instrument for the quality of the customs controls and for a better functioning Customs Union. The CCEI provides targeted funding for the purchase, maintenance and upgrade of customs control equipment destined to the border crossing points and the customs laboratories of the 27 customs authorities of the EU Member States. The Director also insisted on ensuring full compliance with the financial rules when executing the CCEI budget exceeding 1 billion EUR.
The opening was followed by a presentation of the policy vision behind the CCEI and the practical implementation of the instrument.
The Commission explained the role of the CCEI within the overall Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2021 and its short and medium/long term vision aligned with the CCEI policy objective of contributing to adequate and equivalent controls. The CCEI short-term vision is focused on the adequacy component of the objectives, and aims at “filling-in the existing gaps” and improving customs controls performance. The CCEI medium and long-term vision is focused on the equivalence/harmonisation, to be achieved via agreeing and implementing common standards related to the equipment.
The equipment manufacturers and service providers, even if not direct beneficiaries of the fund, play a key role for the success of the CCEI. Member States, the European Commission, the Equipment manufacturers and service providers should all be aligned around the objective of improving customs controls.
The CCEI implementation is already in progress.The Regulation was adopted on 24 June 2021, followed by the adoption of the first Work Programme and the launch of the CCEI call for proposals in October. Member States are currently preparing their proposals and have until 18 January 2022 to submit. This will allow the Commission to evaluate and award the CCEI grants to the beneficiaries – the customs authorities of the 27 Member States. The Commission expects to sign the grant agreements and proceed with the first pre-financing payments as of June 2022.
DG TAXUD also presented the financial envelope for the 1st CCEI Multi Annual Work Programme (2021-2022), together with the CCEI policy priorities and how they are reflected by the four award criteria in the first call for proposals: relevance, EU added value (the leading award criterion), sustainability and innovation.
The TAXUD equipment experts presented as well the list of eligibleequipment under the first CCEI call and explained their most important features: safety; security; cyber-resilience; interoperability; maintenance & warranties; and environmental compliance. The presentation ended with an explanation of the way forward in customs innovation driven by the 3I principles: to innovate; to integrate; to interoperate.
The presentation made by the Commission was followed by an open discussion and dialogue with the representatives of the manufacturers and service providers. A summary of the comments and questions raised during the session and the bilateral meetings can be found below arranged by subjects:
- CCEI potential beneficiaries: The Instrument is targeting exclusively the Customs Authorities of the 27 Member States as defined in Article 4(1) of the Union Customs Code Regulation 952/2013. Equipment financed under the CCEI can however be co-shared with other authorities, as long as such is not systematic (Article 6 Regulation (EU) 2021/1077)
- Origin of manufacturers: currently the CCEI regulation and implementing acts for the first programming period do not envisage limitations and/or preferential treatment of the manufacturers based on their origin.
- Cooperation with other programmes: The CCEI is linked with other Commission programmes, in particular with BMVI, the EU Anti-Fraud programme, Horizon Europe, with the aim to avoid overlaps and to benefit from possible synergies.
- Eligibility of software and equipment related services: The CCEI Regulation includes an article (Article 9 Regulation (EU) 2021/1077) listing actions that are not eligible under the CCEI Instrument. The costs associated to customs electronic systems are not eligible unless it is a software or software update directly needed to operate or interlink the equipment. The same principle applies to related services like a scanning/image reading software.
- Eligibility of upgrades: Equipment upgrades could be eligible for funding. The regulation includes a definition of upgrade (Article 2 Regulation (EU) 2021/1077), which allows to encompass different services needed for this purpose.
- List of equipment eligible: Annex 1 (as established under Article 6 Regulation (EU) 2021/1077) is an indicative list of equipment and technology established at the moment of preparing the CCEI proposal for regulation by the Commission, and the regulation provides the possibility to review and update this list with new technology that may emerge during the course of the programme.
- Unified File format: The WCO Unified File Format UFF 2.0 is going to be a mandatory requirement for the high energy X-scanners financed under the first CCEI call, as defined under section “2. Objectives — Themes and priorities — Activities that can be funded — Expected impact”, in the Invitation to submit proposals.
- The Member States will be responsible for the procurement of the equipment and shall put in place the necessary organisation for this purpose, including the conformity with existing equipment standards and licensing requirements from regulatory authorities. The national procurement procedures will also need to follow the EU Directive on Public Procurement.
- Currently the Member States can submit their proposals until 18 January 2022. The next programming cycle and CCEI call is planned for 2023. The approach and the list of equipment financed under the future programming cycle could vary in order to accommodate evolving priorities and the programme implementation.
- The manufacturers are encouraged to present their products and services to the customs authorities of the Member States taking into account the most relevant equipment features as presented by the Commission.
- 14 December 2021
- Generaldirektoratet for Beskatning og Toldunion