Customs checkpoints to disappear from Czech borders upon EU accession

16-06-2003

While in some areas of life Czechs will hardly notice anything has changed once the country actually joins the European Union next year, elsewhere the changes will be very visible. One such change will affect the country's border crossings. On the day of its accession, the Czech Republic will become part of the EU's customs union and that means customs checkpoints will disappear from the border crossings, as the Czech Republic will be surrounded only by other EU member states.

Photo: European CommissionPhoto: European Commission Free movement of goods is one of the cornerstones of the European Union. No customs charges apply to movement of goods between EU member states, which will be joined by ten other countries, including the Czech Republic, next year. All the member countries apply a common external tariff on imports from outside the EU, and imported goods move freely throughout the customs territory once they clear customs in the EU. Jiri Bartak is a spokesman for the Czech Customs Authority.

"Customs charges will still be collected but in a much smaller quantity. Imports from third countries will come only through airports. Seventy-five percent of the customs charge collected in an EU member country goes to the Brussels customs centre and twenty-five percent of the amount stays in the country that collected it."

What is good news for trade and business is bad news for the customs officers themselves - an estimated 2,000 people will have to look for new jobs. Some are hoping to find employment at the government ministries but others will have to look in the private sector, too. Upon EU accession, the number of customs offices will be reduced to forty from the current ninety-one and the nature of customs examination will take on a different form.

"We are planning to concentrate more on what is called "mobile customs supervision". These checks will take place anywhere in the Czech Republic and they will not concentrate only on smuggled goods but also on goods subject to some kind of trade restriction - that is weapons, radioactive material, addictive substances, etc."

16-06-2003