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5.1.2.  Elimination of internal borders in the EC/EU

    The good results of the customs union spurred the completion of the common market, examined in the next chapter, itself needed for the completion of the customs union. Indeed, the customs union and the common market, which were the goals of the Treaty of Rome, both suffered from the same problems and finally benefited from the same remedies. Heartened by the evident benefits of the customs union, the European institutions under the leadership of the Commission waged a "war of attrition on formalities", which, thanks to the Single European Act of 1987 [see section 2.1], reached a successful conclusion on December 31, 1992.

    Since January 1, 1993, no customs formalities are required for trade within the European Union. Hence, all checks and all formalities in respect of goods moving within the EC/EU have been eliminated[1]. The EU henceforth forms one single border-free area for the purposes of the movement of goods under cover of the TIR (international road transport) and ATA (temporary admission of goods) carnets [see section 5.2.3]. This saves a great deal of time for economic operators and thus helps cut the cost of transporting goods within the EU. The absence of duties and formalities bolsters intra-EU trade (dispatches and arrivals) which represents around 65% of the total trade of the Member States and up to 80% of the total imports or exports of some countries of the Union.


    In order to guarantee the free movement of persons provided for by Article 21 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (ex Article 18 TEC), controls and formalities appertaining to cabin and hold baggage of persons taking an intra-EU flight and the baggage of persons making an intra-EU sea crossing have been abolished since January 1993[2].

    The abandonment of customs formalities, as of 1st January 1993, has necessitated the establishment of a system for collecting statistical information on exchanges of goods between Member States directly from undertakings (INTRASTAT). The amendments to customs legislation following the completion of the internal market have also necessitated the updating of the regulations on the completion of statistics on the trading of goods with non-member countries[3]. EDICOM is a trans-European network for the collection, production and dissemination of statistics on the intra-EU and extra-EU trading of goods[4].

    [1]   Regulation 952/2013, OJ L 269, 10.10.2013, last amended by Regulation 2017/989, OJ L 149/13.06.2017.

    [2]   Regulation 952/2013, OJ L 269, 10.10.2013, last amended by Regulation 2017/989, OJ L 149/13.06.2017.

    [3]   Regulation 471/2009, OJ L 152, 16.06.2009.

    [4]   Decision 507/2001, OJ L 76, 16.03.2001 and Decision 787/2004, OJ L 138, 30.04.2004.

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    Your roadmap in the maze of the European Union.

    Based on the book of Nicholas Moussis:
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