European partners continue to share their expertise in customs to prepare Ukraine for EU accession

Magdalena Rzeczkowska, an EU4PFM expert, former Minister of Finance of Poland (2022 – 2023) presented the Polish experience of aligning legislation with EU customs regulations and implementing IT systems for paperless customs.

The meeting was attended by Yurii Draganchuk, Deputy Minister of Finance of Ukraine for European Integration, Oleg Nikolaychuk, Deputy Head for Digital Development, Digital Transformations and Digitization (CDTO) of the State Customs Service, Ekaterina Yakovleva, Manager of the PFM Sector of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, Jurgita Domeikiene, EU4PFM Team Leader and Vytenis Alisauskas, EU4PFM International Expert on Customs.

During the meeting, Deputy Minister emphasized the extraordinary support from international partners in reforming the State Customs Service and highlighted the importance of learning from European partners’ experiences to prepare Ukraine for EU accession.

“Ukraine is steadily moving towards membership in the European Union. Despite the full-scale war, we have made significant progress over the past two years, especially in terms of harmonizing customs legislation with EU legislation and its implementation. This was reflected in a high assessment by the European side, and in April, we moved to official negotiations on Chapter 29: Customs Union. Ukraine is making significant efforts to harmonize its customs IT system and customs legislation with the EU’s. To this end, the Ministry of Finance approved the Strategic Plan for Digitalisation of Customs until 2026, which is based on the European MASP-C plan. The State Customs Service has already started implementing this plan with the support of the EU4PFM program,” Draganchuk said.

He also announced that the Ministry of Finance, together with the State Customs Service and with the support of the EU4PFM and the Reform Support Team under the Ministry of Finance, is developing a draft of the new Customs Code of Ukraine, which is scheduled for presentation in December this year.

Drawing on Poland’s experience, which joined the EU over 20 years ago, Magdalena Rzeczkowska outlined three critical steps Ukraine needs to take as a candidate for EU membership: aligning customs legislation with European standards, implementing the necessary IT systems, and preparing for information exchange with the EU.

“The customs union means a single set of rules for all member states and the principle of ‘acting as one.’ Therefore, joining the EU necessitates fully aligning national customs legislation with EU legislation,” Magdalena Rzeczkowska emphasized. She noted that EU membership left the organization and functioning of the Polish customs service to national decisions and legislation, with increased attention to transparency, anti-corruption policies, and challenges regarding the management of the EU’s external borders, particularly the transition of Poland’s western and southern borders to internal EU borders.

The Expert highlighted the importance of paperless customs in the EU. She stated, “Customs processes cannot be implemented without special IT systems,” and noted that “the main principles of electronic customs are regulated by EU legislation.” The roadmap for this is the Working Program of the EU Customs Code (UCC) and MASP-C (Multi-Year Strategic Plan of IT Systems for Customs).

She stressed the importance of modeling business processes and applying service-oriented architecture (SOA). The expert also presented the architecture of the Polish customs IT system, noting that in Poland, external contractors are mainly used for IT development, while a special center within the Ministry of Finance handles IT infrastructure and maintenance