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Customs mutual assistance – Regulation 515/97

Regulation 515/97 sets out how national authorities must cooperate with each other and with the Commission to implement EU customs and agricultural legislation.

The main purpose is to enable them to share information on breaches, or suspected breaches, of this legislation. This information, obtained on the basis of 'mutual assistance', can be used as evidence in administrative and judicial proceedings.

Due to a number of developments in recent years that might have impacted the Regulation, the Commission assessed the Regulation – mainly to account for:

  • the new EU data protection regime
  • new fraud risks in the customs sector.


The evaluation report is based on the answers collected during the stakeholder consultation, feedback from meetings and available reports with relevance in the customs domain. Because the Regulation has no direct impact on the public, this consultation was not aimed at the general public. The following interested parties were consulted, using a combination of questionnaires and interviews:

  • national authorities responsible for implementing EU customs and agricultural legislation, especially users of IT systems and databases established under Regulation 515/97
  • Commission departments with access to these IT systems and databases
  • carrier organisations (especially the World Shipping Council and the European Community Shipowners' Associations)
  • European Data Protection Supervisor
  • relevant international partners, especially the World Customs Organisation

The overall scope was set out in the roadmap for evaluating Regulation 515/97.

The conclusions

The findings and conclusions of the evaluation are summarised in Staff Working Document SWD(2023) 428 final and its Executive Summary SWD(2023) 429 final.