Who is entitled to issue supplier’s declarations?

In its ruling of 2 September 2015, the Düsseldorf Finance Court ruled in favour of a plaintiff who wanted Greek supplier declarations to be recognised as proof of origin. The plaintiff was right not to submit supplier’s declarations of a Bulgarian company that had packed the goods.

Depending on the preferential agreement, economic operators can benefit from customs advantages up to duty exemption. Certificates of origin in the form of EUR.1 movement certificates or declarations of origin must be presented on the invoice. Movement certificates EUR.1 can be issued upon presentation of individual or long-term supplier declarations.

The facts underlying the judgment

In the case of FG Düsseldorf, the plaintiff bought textiles from a Greek manufacturer. These have since been packaged ready for sale in Bulgaria by a third company. In Germany, the plaintiff was issued EUR.1 movement certificates upon presentation of supplier’s declarations from his Greek manufacturer. As part of the duty-free import of goods into Switzerland, Swiss customs proposed a review procedure. The German customs authorities then withdrew the EUR.1 movement certificates from the plaintiff on the ground that it was not the Greek manufacturer but the Bulgarian packaging company that was entitled to issue the supplier’s declarations.

No basis for revocation of EUR.1

The FG Düsseldorf initially found that the preferential agreement with Switzerland does not provide a basis for revoking the EUR.1 movement certificates. For this reason alone, the action against the revocation notice was well-founded. However, the authorities are still free, within the framework of a review procedure, not to confirm the authenticity and accuracy of the proofs of origin. The EUR.1 movement certificates thus remain formally in force, but can be[bold] rejected by customs on importation[/bold]

Packaging of the goods does not constitute origin

Furthermore, the Court ruled that the goods in dispute are goods of origin of the European Union. Under the preferential agreement with Switzerland, the dividing or assembling of packages, the ironing of textiles, the classification and sorting, including the assembling of assortments, all simple packaging operations and a combination of two or more of these treatments (bold) is not sufficient to obtain originating status[/bold] This means that the textiles in dispute retain their European originating status, even if they have been packaged in Bulgaria.

The last one in the supply chain does not have to be the supplier

The Court did not share the view of Customs that the supplier could only be the last person in the supply chain to pack and ship the goods. Rather, according to the court, the provisions on supplier declarations provide for a contractual relationship between the exporter as buyer and the supplier for the delivery of goods. Therefore, supplier declarations made by the seller and manufacturer to the plaintiff, as in this case, cannot be refused recognition from the outset.

Proof of identity provided by packing lists

For the required proof of identity, FG Düsseldorf considered it sufficient that the applicant submitted packing lists of the Bulgarian packaging company showing that the Greek manufacturer had sold the goods designated in the supplier’s declarations to the plaintiff and that these goods had been fully packaged in Bulgaria and forwarded to Germany. Therefore, doubts about the originating status of textiles were excluded.

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Lawyer Dr. Tristan Wegner

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