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  • 15 mins
  • Level 1: Introductory

A short guide to the Customs Union: An OpenLearn watching brief

Updated Wednesday 28th February 2018

Want to understand the question of being inside or outside the European Customs Union - and why it matters? Our collection of short videos will help make things a little clearer.

A history of the European Customs Union

Let's start with the origins of the Customs Union. This animation from 1968 explains the beginings of a scheme to allow goods and services to flow across national borders:

The Customs Union today

Admittedly, that attempt to explain a complex idea in a simple way for a multilingual audience might have wound up making things a little less clear that they were before. Instead, then, let's turn to the BBC Newsnight correspondent Chris Cooke for a slightly clearer explanation:

Would keeping in the Customs Union mean 'frictionless' trade?

If the UK decided to seek a new customs agreement with the EU, would that ensure that businesses in Brighton could trade with Britanny as easily as they do now? Not really - as this University of Sussex video shows:

Just how big is the Customs Union?

This European Commission video shows exactly how much economic activity is taking place across the Customs Union every minute - something which the Commission says "convincingly illustrate[s the Union's] importance to modern Europe". Which is one opinion...

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