EU Twinning Project to strengthen customs control in Armenia (07/09/2012)

The official launch of the EU funded Twinning project “Support to the State Revenue Committee for strengthening of Customs control procedures and enforcement in the Republic of Armenia” took place on 7 September, in Erebuni Plaza Business Centre.
Twinning is a European Commission initiative that was originally designed to help candidate countries acquire the necessary skills and experience to adopt, implement and enforce EU legislation.  Twinning is a cooperation tool, between a public institution in a beneficiary Country and the equivalent institution in an EU Member State. The EU uses this tool in candidate countries, potential candidate countries and European Neighborhood Policy countries. Armenia became part of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) in 2004. The ENP Action Plan has been discussed by the EU and the Armenian Government and was adopted on November 14, 2006.

The objective of the current EU funded Twinning project is to support the State Revenue Committee (SRC) to strengthen the Armenian customs by developing modern customs control procedures and enforcement according to the best practices of EU Member States. The beneficiary of the project is the SRC and other stakeholders are the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia.

The Twinning Project is financed by the European Union with a budget of approximately 1 Million EURO and will be implemented by a Lithuanian - Finnish Consortium of two European Customs administrations (The Customs Department under the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania and the National Board of Customs of the Republic of Finland). The Project will be implemented over a period of 24 months (13th June 2012 to 12th June 2012).

The Twinning Project was officially launched by Jean-Christophe Gayrand, Head of Operations section in the European Union to  Armenia. He stated that in light of the on-going EU-Armenia negotiations on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, strengthening the Armenian Customs is of utmost importance. 

Gagik Khachatryan, Chairman of the State Revenue Committee (SRC), underlined that unlike TAIEX and other support mechanisms, the Twinning program transfers the implemented reforms, as well as the cooperation with EU to a new level. According to the SRC Chairman, they tried to harmonize the directions included in the program with the provision of the most favorable environment for the business. Chairman of SRC highlighted that since the beginning of project implementation in the middle of June there have been a few MS Short-term Experts visits to Armenia, which provide positive solutions to issues and problems raised by SRC.
Vygantas Paigozinas, the Deputy Director General of the Customs Department under the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of  Lithuania noted that it was an honour to the Project Consortium of Lithuanian and Finnish Customs Administrations to assist the State Revenue Committee of the Republic of Armenia. The Consortium partners aim to transfer best practices from the European Union experience and knowledge and to address relevant customs legislation, specific operational procedures and trade relations. To jointly reach the overall goal of the project, all involved parties will work in a close partnership.

Vida Mickiene, Resident Twinning Adviser, presented the Twinning Project: objectives, components, activities and the expected results. She pointed out that the results of the Project might be achieved only if partners work together in good partnership and cooperation atmosphere. The Resident Twinning Adviser believes that this Twinning project will support the Armenian Customs to make their own decisions on customs modernization.