The eCustoms pilot implemented by EU4Digital as part of its electronic trade facilitation activities was successfully launched on 22 December. The data exchange on empty trucks will be performed between the Kamienny Loh (Belarus) and Medininkai (Lithuania) border crossing points.
The main purpose of the empty trucks scenario is to enable data exchange about empty freight transportation. It will enable quicker evidence of the border crossing of empty freight transport, and consequently their quicker passage through border crossing points.
From a law enforcement perspective, empty vehicles are considered as high risk (e.g. used for smuggling – formally declared as empty, but with some goods inside), and this scenario will enable verification that a truck which is declared as empty at exit customs office is also declared empty at the neighbouring customs office.
The launch of the first eCustoms pilot scenario on empty trucks marks not only the successful completion of the first phase of the pilot, but also highlights the fruitful cooperation between the beneficiaries and EU4Digital Facility team. The active cooperation between the participating parties began in February 2020. Since then, more than 40 coordination, working, thematic, technical meetings and trainings have taken place.
Despite the pandemic situation, the participants managed successfully to collaborate and work remotely on the preparatory activities for the eCustoms pilot launch. Throughout the preparation, the aim was to ensure that the pilot would be replicable to other Eastern partner countries and that existing advanced mechanisms and best practices of customs data exchange from other regions would be reused.
During the preparation phase, several milestones were achieved, including:
- Adaptation of SEED (Systematic exchange of electronic data) solution according to beneficiaries’ requirements. As some information in the initially agreed dataset, i.e. truck number plates, was considered personal data as per the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the need for a flexible and adaptive solution arose. The EU4Digital Facility expert team analysed several alternatives that would ensure compliancy with GDPR, eventually selecting the option to use the unique reference number generated by SEED.
- Established cooperation between Belarus and Lithuanian customs authorities for piloting – a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in October 2020.
- Conclusion of the design and development phase for empty trucks scenario. Tasks related to the pilot design, as well as solution development, set-up and installation, were successfully concluded.
The two remaining scenarios – exchange of limited and full data set of export and transit declarations – will launch in January-February 2021.
Further steps – pilot implementation between Eastern partner countries
Currently, the EU4Digital Facility is considering the possibility of replicating the pilot between Eastern partner countries. Positive confirmation from the parties would mean that the pilot could be initiated as early as January 2021. The eCustoms pilot is the starting point, which will follow with the recommendations for necessary legal, technical and organisational adjustments for the full-scale solution implementation.