EU customs controls are not being applied effectively, an EU audit has found, with importers able to take advantage of loopholes to reduce or evade their duty liabilities.
The European Court of Auditors investigated whether the European Commission and EU member states had designed robust controls on imports. They visited the customs authorities of Spain, Italy, Poland, Romania, and the UK.
The auditors concluded that importers can deliberately reduce or evade customs duty liability by, for example, undervaluing their goods, declaring a false country of origin, or shifting to a product classification with a lower duty rate. They said that the real origin of goods can be disguised via fraudulent shipment in a country where the goods are stored temporarily and then sent to the EU with fake documents.
The auditors also found that there is insufficient financial incentive for EU member states to apply customs controls and that, among those who do, there is a lack of success in recovering revenue losses. They said that several courier companies are abusing the duty exemption for low-value goods, and that a lack of checks is leading to underpayment of tax on goods purchased online from outside the EU.
The auditors recommended that the European Commission:
The auditors recommended that EU member states should: