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Political Agreement Reached On New EU Customs Anti-Fraud Measures

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

29 December 2014

COREPER, the EU's Permanent Representatives Committee, has endorsed an agreement with the European Union aimed at cracking down on customs fraud.

The agreement proposes a series of updates to the current rules on the anti-fraud system. The objective is to enhance supply chain security at EU and national levels. In turn, this should better protect the financial interests of the EU and its member states against customs fraud and other breaches of customs and agriculture legislation.

The changes are designed to further promote mutual assistance between member states and the European Commission, to ensure the correct application of laws on customs and agricultural matters. They are also intended to simplify and speed up procedures against fraud. The new rules create two common databases on the trade of goods, to facilitate the more efficient analysis and detection of customs fraud. The databases will be accessible to the competent authorities in each member state, and will be operated by the Commission.

COREPER is responsible for preparing the work of the European Council. It consists of representatives from EU member states, and is chaired by the member state which holds the Council Presidency. The COREPER decision confirms a provisional agreement reached between the Presidency and European Parliament representatives earlier this month.

Italy's State Secretary for European Affairs, Sandro Gozi, said: "The Italian Presidency welcomes the political agreement reached on the proposed regulation on customs mutual administrative assistance. The exchange of information is the most important tool for national customs authorities and for the Commission to accomplish their role in fighting against customs fraud, thus protecting the EU's financial interests and enhancing the security and safety of the supply chain."

"The new regulation will make more effective such exchange of information, notably through the creation of new databases that are constantly updated with data related to the movement of goods, which is extremely important for the detection of possible new patterns of fraud. Negotiations leading to [the] agreement were complex but I am convinced that the result achieved deserved the efforts made by the Council and the Parliament."

The three most common types of customs law breaches are: mis-description or undervaluation of imported goods to take advantage of lower duties; mis-declaration of the origin of the goods to circumvent anti-dumping levies or to avoid import limitation quotas; and frauds at export, particularly in relation to sensitive excisable goods. The annual cost of these breaches is estimated at around EUR185m (USD226m).

The Council and the Parliament will formalize the adoption of the new regulation in early 2015.

TAGS: compliance | tax | European Commission | value added tax (VAT) | tax compliance | tax avoidance | export duty | revenue guidance | law | anti-dumping | goods and services tax (GST) | ministry of finance | tax authority | legislation | Italy | import duty | revenue statistics | tax reform | regulation | trade | European Union (EU) | services | Europe

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