Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Official Journal Reference

L 187 of 1991-07-13

Legislative Reference

91/341/CEE of 1991-06-20
To prepare customs officials of Member States for the implications of the internal market with a view to the uniform application of Community regulations at the external borders of the Community; to increase awareness in the customs services that, in the internal market, they will be required to work increasingly on behalf of the Community as a whole; to provide supplementary, adapted vocational training to the greatest possible number of customs officials; to utilize to maximum advantage the know-how of customs services in the Community through greater mobility of staff and thus to improve the management of the Customs Union and the application of the fiscal provisions relating to imports and exports; to stimulate intensive and ongoing cooperation at all levels of the relevant administrations with a view to preparing them for working together within the context of the internal market.


The establishment of the internal market necessitated a new definition of the role of Community customs officials in ensuring the proper functioning of the Customs Union. This role will, in future, focus on the uniform application of customs legislation at the Community's external borders, which is a prerequisite for the execution of the various Community policies governing foreign trade.

For 1990, the Commission adopted a training programme, based on the exchange of customs officials between national administrations, as a pilot project to collect useful material to allow the implementation of a more ambitious training programme extending over several years and supplemented by other training measures. The MATTHAEUS programme has now been adopted by the Council of the European Communities as that training programme.

For the purposes of the programme 'exchange official' means an official of a Member State required to perform the duties entrusted to him in a customs service situated in another Member State; 'host service' means the customs service in which the exchange official is required to perform his duties; and 'donor service' means the customs service in which the exchange official normally performs his duties.


Four training measures:

- Exchanges of customs officials between national administrations;

- Training seminars for customs officials, especially trainers in customs schools, officials responsible for implementing Community law and officials responsible for combating all types of fraud;

- The implementation in Member States' customs schools of common vocational training programmes including the study of:
. The European Communities and their foundations;
. Community customs law;
. Common policies;
. Principles of Community taxation policy;
. Certain international organizations;

- The organization of language training courses in the Member States for exchange officials.


The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme assisted by a committee composed of the representatives of the Member States and chaired by the representative of the Commission.

Member States take the necessary steps to enable exchange officials to be operational in the host service. To this end, exchange officials are authorized to carry out the formalities relating to the duties entrusted to them. The Member States may limit this authorization if circumstances require. During the period of the exchange, the civil liability of the exchange official during the performance of his duties is assimilated to that of the national officials of the host service. Exchange officials are bound by the same rules of professional secrecy as national officials.

Member States establish language training for their officials who are likely to participate in the exchanges covering all official Community languages. The Commission, acting on its own initiative or at the request of Member States, may organize language training in the less widely spoken official languages of the Community in the Member States in which they are used.

The expenses arising from the training measures are shared between the Commission and the Member States, the Commission paying the travel and subsistence expenses for exchanges of customs officials and of officials participating in seminars while the Member States pay for the language training of their staff.

The programme is multiannual and the Commission submits an annual report on its implementation to the European Parliament and to the Council. Before 1 July 1993, the Commission will also submit a report on the experience acquired in implementing the programme accompanied, if appropriate, by a proposal for its adaptation.
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