The European Court of Auditors published a Special Report on Customs controls.
The European Court of Auditor is saying that uniform application of customs controls by Member States is necessary to prevent fraudulent importers from targeting border entry points with a lower level of controls. However, the uniform application of customs controls is also important to avoid unfair competition between the economic operators in the different Member States.
In 2018 the Commission adopted the Financial Risks Criteria and Standards Implementing decision (the “FRC decision”) in order to harmonize Member States’ selection of imports for controls.
We are not going to enter into the details of this report that you can find in the link above, but there are some figures that are interesting to be reported and that shows that the harmonization in customs between the Member States is still a long way.
Statistics collected by the Commission show that the level of controls currently varies significantly between Member States: from less than 1 % of import declarations in some countries to more than 60 % in others. On average in the EU, the percentage of documentary controls on standard declarations is about 9,5% and for physical controls 4,5%. Moreover, it seems that not all Member States subject all declarations (standard and simplified) to automated risk analysis.
The simplified declaration allows authorized economic operators to omit certain details or documents or, sometimes, to simply enter the import in their financial records (known as “EIDR” – Entry into the declarant’s records). In such case, the importer must lodge a supplementary declaration, within a specific time limit, containing all the details required in a standard declaration.
In some Member States, the automated risk analysis is not done to simplified declaration but only to the supplementary declarations. However, some Member States do not perform a risk analysis at all for simplified and supplementary declarations. When we know that the percentage of the simplified declaration in the Member States visited by the audit team varied between 25 % and 95 % of the total declarations submitted, this means that a lot of imports are not controlled or in a limited way.
We would like to add that based on our experience, we see also big differences between the Member States in the process of requesting/delivering customs authorizations, but also in the treatment of the AEOs. In some Member States, requesting an authorization if you are or you are not an AEO, is almost the same.
Does that mean that customs procedures should not be taken seriously by importers/exporters? Absolutely not! Bear in mind that even if the percentage of controls are not high, not being compliant with the Union Customs Code can lead to criminal sanctions.
Let’s hope that this report of the European Court of Auditors will make change happens.
Do you want to know more about customs procedures? You can contact our Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.