Brussels (Brussels Morning) The fact that EU member states approach their respective customs control procedures differently is having an impact on overall EU revenues, according to a European Court of Auditors (ECA) assessment report published on 30 March. EU auditors are now advocating tat member states adopt a more cohesive and coordinated process.
Despite recent steps in the right direction, the prevailing EU rules have yet to be fine-tuned to a point where they function well enough to ensure that member states determine and implement import controls in a uniform standardized fashion, the ECA report said.
The ECA auditors found that member states currently apply the rules very differently, enabling operators to target EU entry points where controls are less rigourous or even lax. The auditors pointed out that some member states do not conduct the required risk analysis on all declarations, and that imports posing a higher risk may not be properly prioritised for control.
“To prevent fraudulent importers from avoiding customs duties by targeting border entry points with lesser customs controls, the control selection procedures must be applied in a uniform manner throughout the Customs Union”, Jan Gregor, the ECA member responsible for the report, declared. “Currently, EU customs controls are not well harmonised, which hampers the EU’s financial interests”.
Customs duties account for 13 % of EU budget revenue. When duties are evaded the customs revenue-garnering gap widens, leaving member states to compensate for the shortfall with higher contributions. The net effect is that the cost of the shortfall ends up being borne by the European taxpayer.
The EU Customs Union was created more than 50 years ago. In matters related to customs, the EU has exclusive competence to adopt legislation, while member states are responsible for implementation and customs controls.
On 30 March, the EU anti-fraud office, OLAF, revealed the seizure of fake sports shoes in warehouse raids, in Antwerp. The raids were conducted in association with the Belgian and German authorities.
A Belgian Economic Inspection team simultaneously raided another suspicious storage facility in Charleroi, finding more than 3,000 pairs of counterfeit shoes and perfumes, OLAF said. “Thanks to OLAF’s coordination, German Customs also seized over 400 pairs and counterfeit textiles in a location in Germany”, the EU anti-fraud office announced.
OLAF’s Director-general, Ville Itälä, emphasised described the confiscations as significant, noting that the fake goods confiscated as a result of the operation were of “an international dimension”.
“The total value of the products seized is around 400,000 euros – a significant amount that we have stopped the traffickers and fraudsters from pocketing by keeping the fake goods off the market and away from consumers. All of this is the result of our continuous good work with national authorities”, Itälä stated