With the leader of the opposition making a speech today setting out Labour’s commitment to keeping the UK in the Customs Union there will be much debate about this topic in the media and other agreements that exist between non-European Union nation states. There is little wonder the debate is difficult to follow. The chart below sets out the various combinations of treaty participation.
With 48 nation states signed up to one treaty or more only 28 (including the UK) are currently in the European Union (EU) and only 15 of the EU member states are signed up to all the main treaties, EU, Eurozon, Customs Union, Schengen Area and the European Economic Area.
The European Commission’s website provides a useful guide to teritorial status and what rules apply to what nation state regarding customs, VAT and excise. This in itself demonstats a certain divergence within the EU. READ MORE .
Listening to the discussions in the media this morning it would appear that there is some confusion of what the Customs Union actually is. A good explanation can be found HERE
Essentially the Customs Union is a uniform system for handling the import, export and transit of goods and implement a common set of rules called the Union Customs Code (UCC).
A uniform system of customs duties is being used on imports from outside the EU and there are no customs duties at the borders between the EU countries. Duty on goods from the outside of the EU is generally paid when they first enter, but after that, there is nothing more to pay, no more checks and all goods move freely within the EU Customs Union. In practice, the EU Customs Union is managed by 28 national customs services acting as one. The European Commission proposes the EU customs legislation and monitors its implementation.
The single market is a much broader concept that relates to a standardised process for the movement of goods and services within the EU, it regulates barriers to trade, public procurement and stadards of goods on the grounds of safety, health and environmental protection (the CE mark). It also has a system of governance monitored by the European Commission. More details can be found HERE ….