New European Union customs rules designed to simplify life for business while ramping up consumer protection took effect on May 1, the European Commission said.
The new rules overhaul legislation from 1992 for a customs union that sees upwards of 3 trillion euros (US$3.4 trillion) worth of goods flow in and out of the 28-member bloc each year, a market of half a billion people.
The new Union Customs Code (UCC) will introduce more efficient clearance procedures and speed up goods' distribution to consumers at reduced cost, while increasing consumer protection against goods which do not meet EU environmental, health and safety requirements.
Customs also "play an important role in the fight against terrorism by checking for the illegal trafficking of firearms and illegal trade in works of art and cultural goods," said Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs.
Every minute of every day the bloc imports and exports 4,221 tons of goods worth 6.3 million euros, Commission figures show.
The UCC should be fully implemented by the end of 2020, the Commission said