The European Commission is working to harmonize custom sanctions across the European Union, proposing a shared list of customs infringements with corresponding fines and fees for each violation.
“In the absence of a common approach, there is a patchwork of responses to rule-breakers,” according to the commission, which added that the law will bring about “a more uniform and effective application of EU customs law in every part of the EU.”
Sanctions would be leveled in the case of unpaid duties, a failure to declare goods, falsified or incorrect documents, the unauthorized removal of goods from the customs area, and other transgressions.
Punishment for minor customs violations, such as inadvertent errors, could be equivalent to 1 percent of the value of the goods being shipped; for the most serious violations, the EU would levy a fine of 30 percent of the goods' value or up to 45,000 euro ($61,983). The commission said these fines would also take into account “the nature and circumstances of the infringement, including the frequency and duration, whether a ‘trusted trader’ is involved, and the amount of evaded duties.”
Sanctions for customs violations currently vary across all 28 states even though the entire EU is under the same customs legislation.
"There is no point in a solid, single set of rules if we do not also have a common approach to responding when they are broken,” Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta said in a statement. “We must ensure that EU customs law is respected to the same high standards across the Single Market. Today's proposal will create a more level playing field for businesses, a more secure market for citizens and a more uniformly managed customs union."