On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice ruled that, at the time of its membership in the European Union, the United Kingdom failed to impose sufficient tariffs on imports of Chinese textiles and footwear at an underestimated value. Billion dollar bill threatens London.
On Tuesday, the court considered a breaching procedure opened by the European Commission against the United Kingdom in 2018. The commission requested 2.7 billion euros from Britons for failing to impose sufficient tariffs on fraudulent imports of textiles and footwear from China. Tariffs are the so-called traditional private resources that member states must transfer directly to the European budget.
European anti-fraud agency Olaf found in 2017 that UK importers had evaded a significant amount of customs duties by making incorrect statements about the true value of clothes and shoes imported from China. Olaf has warned of this fraud for years and recommended that member states take measures, such as applying the lowest acceptable rate. However, London failed to do so, and since 2011 the amount of fraud across the UK has increased sharply.
In its ruling, the Court’s Grand Chamber asserted on Tuesday that the UK had failed to meet its obligations as a member state to take effective customs measures and to transfer the correct amounts to Brussels. The court also states that the British did not provide the commission with all the information it needed to calculate the amount of revenue due.
It doesn’t seem like the last word has been said about the amount. While the court validates the statistical method used by the commission in these circumstances, it also states that the amounts owed have not been determined with sufficient precision to meet the “legally required standard.” The judges ask the commission to recalculate the amount owed, taking into account their recommendations.
The United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31, 2020. However, the estate division provides that the country remains subject to European jurisdiction for violating European rules at the time of its membership.
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