December 09
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Customs Law of the European Union

Massimo Fabio

review by

Darya Budova

The European Union’s Customs Union has made a long way from a common customs tariff to a comprehensive framework for customs rules, procedures and decisions. Today, more than ever, customs rules became complex trying to balance the smooth flow of trade on the one hand, and health and safety at the EU borders on the other. This poses important challenges to the trade, customs practitioners and customs authorities themselves. The Customs Law of the European Union by Massimo Fabio is a great guide into, in the words of the author, the ins and outs of the European Union customs law.

The author kicks off setting the stage of the customs regulations. Following a top down approach, in the chapter 1 the author gives us a straight-to-the-point guide into the background and interconnection between the international framework (GATT, WTO), the EU Law in customs field and national regulations. A comprehensive guide to understanding the sources of the customs law.

The chapters 2 to 4 deal with the three pillars of the customs debt: the classification, the origin and the value of the goods. The approach the author takes is technically thorough and practical at the same time, touching upon important procedural topics such as binding decisions, role of the Court of Justice or proves of origin in preferential trade. Practical examples, case study and case-law quotations make these complex topics easy to follow. Further, the author does not leave behind important related matters such as transfer pricing, for instance.

An important contribution is that the book deals with the jural relationships in the Customs Law in the chapter 5. The author analyses the concept of person, customs debt, how it is born and extinguished, post clearance review and customs litigation. There are important coordinates for dealing with the customs authorities. This matter is complemented well in the chapter 21, about the controls in the context of protection of the financial Interest of the EU.

Chapters 6 to 9 deal with the most common issues in the customs practice at the border: customs declaration, customs representation, import practice and export. Again, the examples are essential for understanding well these practical issues. This analysis is complemented with other practical matters such as movement of excise goods, simplification of customs procedures and electronic data exchange in the chapters 17, 18 and 20. The author also reminds us how incoterms work and their impact in customs matters in the chapter 19. The Authorised Economic Operator status is dealt with in the chapter 23.

Then, after dealing with the most important developments in construction of the customs legislation in the EU since 2001 reform to the Union Customs Code, we find the details of the special customs regimes. In chapters 11 to 16 the author analyses in detail how transit, customs warehousing, inward and outward processing, temporary admission, end use and fee zones work. References to customs legislation and international instruments are very welcome and give a comprehensive view on these issues.

The work would not be so complete without author’s insights into the latest developments in the international trade arena. Trade wars and potential trade countermeasures are exposed in chapter 22, while chapter 24 deals with Brexit (Brexit and trade wars: the end of multilateralism). The book closes with the very much needed review of the impact of the latest E-Commerce regulation on the customs clearance process and supply chains.

This book is a reference work in the customs law field. It deals thoroughly and practically with all the matters that a customs law practitioner would need to know. This book works well both for beginners and experts, since both will find needed information and insight in it.


Darya Budova is a Senior Associate at an international law firm, specialised in VAT and customs law.


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