The customs union is one of the pillars of the EU, through the freedom of goods and merchandise within the community borders. This Monday, the Finance Commissioner, Paolo Gentiloni, presented an action plan to improve that customs union. And the measures include some to tackle “customs fraud,” which “covers a wide range of illegal activities.” In other words, “it is not only about the evasion of customs duties and taxes, but also about the circumvention of import and export restrictions and prohibitions, smuggling, false declarations of origin, etc.”
The Community Executive recalls that the Commission’s anti-fraud service (OLAF) recommended the recovery of more than 2,700 million euros in unpaid customs duties after cases of customs valuation problems between 2017-2019. OLAF also recommended the recovery of around 300 million in the sectors of solar panels, biodiesel during the same period due to dumping problems.
“Increased e-commerce runs the risk of exacerbating this problem,” says Brussels: “Estimates put the annual value of counterfeit products imported into the EU at € 121 billion, representing 6.8% of imports. of the EU from third countries. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) estimates that counterfeit products account for more than 400,000 lost jobs, € 83 billion in lost sales and € 15 billion in lost tax revenue. ”
To this end, the European Commission wants “a new system to provide customs with more data and better tools to analyze it, strengthen customs risk management, provide customs access to data provided by payment service providers and online platforms, reinforcing cooperation between customs and market surveillance authorities to prevent the entry of dangerous goods or goods not conforming to EU parameters “. Thus, the European Commission aims to improve “compliance by traders, re-evaluating and, if necessary, reinforcing EU rules on cooperation with Member States to combat customs fraud; strengthening international cooperation to better align the aspects internal and external work “.
Regarding risk management, the action plan focuses on ensuring greater availability and use and analysis of data for customs purposes: “An intelligent and risk-based monitoring of supply chains and the establishment of a new center of analytics within the Commission to collect, analyze and share customs data that can inform critical decisions, help customs authorities identify weak points at the EU’s external borders and manage future crises. ” In relation to electronic commerce, “the obligations of payment service providers and online sales platforms will be strengthened to help combat customs and tax fraud.”
Brussels also wants to promote single window, that “will facilitate that companies complete their border procedures in a single portal, and will allow a more collaborative processing and exchange of information, as well as a better risk assessment for customs authorities.”
And in relation to customs authorities, the European Commission’s action plan “details the deployment of modern and reliable customs equipment in the next EU budget.” In addition, Brussels wants to set up “a new think tank made up of representatives of Member States and companies to help prepare for future crises and challenges.”