In its Special Report of 5 December 2017, the Court of Auditors of the European Union (EU) pointed out shortcomings in the Member States’ customs controls. Businesses should expect increased checks to be carried out in the near future, as recommended by the Court of Auditors.
Court of Auditors: Major shortcomings in customs controls
The report examined the effectiveness of controls on imports of non-EU goods into the EU. The EU Court of Auditors visited customs authorities in five Member States: Spain, Italy, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom. As a result, the auditors identified significant shortcomings in both the legal framework of customs controls and their practical implementation. This has a negative impact on the EU’s finances. Import duties finance 14% of the EU budget.
The Court also noted that there had been progress in the uniform application of customs legislation in the Member States. However, there are not sufficient financial incentives for Member States to carry out customs controls. For example, Member States would not always carry out the controls proposed by their risk management system. There are still too many loopholes for importers. For example, in e-commerce, the Court identified abuse of customs exemptions for low-value shipments of goods purchased online from non-EU countries.
Businesses should be prepared for increased controls
The report makes an explicit recommendation to Member States to strengthen their customs controls. Whether this will also be implemented remains to be seen. However, companies should take this as an opportunity to check their customs compliance in order to avoid unpleasant surprises during customs controls. Experience has shown that the classification of goods in the customs tariff and the calculation of customs values are particularly prone to errors.
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