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EU Customs & Global Trade Member's Monitor - Week 19

Updated: May 16, 2022

Only for our valued members who subscribe to our support plans do we provide exclusive analysis of customs and trade law.


Content

  • ECJ C-714/20 (U.I.) – Decision – An indirect customs representative is only liable for customs duties, not VAT.

  • Exemptions from ADD for certain biodiesel producers

  • Overview of EU Russian Sanctions + Wide-ranging FAQ + official guidance

  • New features on the Access2Markets portal

  • Northern Ireland Challenges

  • EU adopts position on new requirements for European standardisation


No update to report


The legislation we reviewed for you

13/05/2022L136C195C196

12/05/2022L135C 193C 194

11/05/2022L134C 192



ECJ C-714/20 (U.I.) – Decision – An indirect customs representative is only liable for customs duties, not VAT.


Context: Customs Union — Value added tax (VAT) — Directive 2006/112/EC — Article 201 — Taxpayers — VAT on imports — Union Customs Code — Regulation (EU) no 952/2013 – Article 77, paragraph 3 – Joint and several liability of the indirect customs representative and the importing company – Customs duties


Article 201 of the VAT Directive 2006/112/EC of the European Union.


VAT is payable on importation by any person or persons designated or recognised as liable by the Member State of importation.


About the Case

The applicant in the main proceedings, U.I. Srl, had carried out a number of customs transactions under specific powers of attorney granted to it by two import companies, namely A. SpA, in insolvency, and U.C. Srl. It had made the necessary declarations in its own name as well as on behalf of the two companies.


The Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli – Ufficio delle Dogane di Venezia (Customs and Monopolies Agency – Venice Customs Office; 'the Customs Agency') (the defendant in the main proceedings) had discovered, during tax inspections, that the 'declarations of intent annexed to each import declaration' were 'unreliable' because they were based on the allegedly mistaken assumption that the


The import transactions that were the subject of the tax inspections were thus not VAT-free because the import companies A. SpA and U.C. Srl had not "carried out transactions that could be used to establish the VAT ceiling."


According to the Customs Agency, the import companies referred to above, as well as their indirect customs representative – the applicant in the main proceedings – are jointly and severally liable for payment of that tax under Article 77(3) of Regulation No 952/2013, read together with Article 5(18) thereof, as well as Article 199 of Regulation No 2454/1993 and Article 201 of Regulation No 2913/1992 establishing the Community Customs Code.


As a result, the Customs Agency prepared two inspection reports, to which the applicant promptly responded with its observations. The Customs Agency had rejected the arguments raised in those observations and issued two tax assessments to the applicant on May 15, 2017 and February 6, 2018. These tax assessments corrected the applicant's import declarations and assessed the VAT due at EUR 173 561.22 and EUR 786 046.24, respectively, plus interest.


The applicant challenged those tax assessments in two separate actions before the referring court, the Commissione tributaria provinciale di Venezia (Provincial Tax Commission).


Court of Justice of the European Union, Venice, Italy), claiming that they should be annulled and, alternatively, that the questions that it has formulated be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling.


Questions


1. Is Article 201 of Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 to be interpreted as meaning that the Member State of importation is required to issue a State provision relating to import VAT (domestic-law tax: Court of Justice, Case C-272/13 of 14 July 2013) that expressly identifies the persons liable to pay import VAT by providing that 'on importation, VAT shall be payable by any person or persons designated or recognised as liable by the Member State of importation'?


2. Is Article 77(3) of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of 9 October 2013 ([Union Customs Code]), which concerns customs debts on import and states that "in the event of indirect representation, the person on whose behalf the customs declaration is made shall also be a debtor," to be interpreted as meaning that the indirect representative is liable not only for customs duties, but also for import VAT simply by being a "declarant" for customs purposes?


Conclusion (Unofficial translation)


1) Article 77(3) of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 October 2013 establishing the Union Customs Code shall be interpreted as meaning that, under this provision alone, the indirect customs representative is only liable for the customs duties due for the goods that he has declared to customs, and not for the value added tax on imports for the same goods.


2) Article 201 of Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value-added tax must be interpreted as meaning that the indirect customs representative's liability for payment of value-added tax on imports, jointly with that of the importer, cannot be withheld in the absence of national provisions explicitly and unequivocally designating or recognising him as liable for this tax.




Nothing to report


DG TRADE


The new Access2Markets homepage was launched today. Information is now organised in a clearer and more intuitive manner. New features have also been added, including a trade assistant for services and investment.


Other


Northern Ireland Challenges

The UK government has begun to request changes to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland. The EU has responded with a flexible approach, however without wishing to change its legal status: “The Protocol, as a cornerstone of the Withdrawal Agreement, is an international agreement. Its renegotiation is not an option. The European Union is united in this position”. Read Statement


Standards

EU adopts position on new requirements for European standardisation

On May 22, the EU took a position on the proposed change to European standards. The standardisation law outlines the process for creating EU-wide standards. Harmonized standards facilitate product marketing and support the single market. They may also be used by the EU to promote its principles and goals, whether on environmental or social issues, such as AI research. The proposed amendment ensures that EU and EEA national standardising organisations create European standards sought by the Commission. Standardization promotes product uniformity. Their widespread use allows manufacturers across the EU to meet important product criteria. At the EU's request, an ESO develops a harmonised European standard. European standards are essential to daily life and the internal market, but not always obvious. Toys and home appliances must be safe, interoperable, and EU-compliant. European goods and services, like batteries and AI, must meet data privacy, cybersecurity, and environmental standards. On 2 February, the Commission proposed new standardisation rules and a strategy. Read press release



Overview of EU Sanctions against Russia

Since March 2014, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures (sanctions) against Russia, initially in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol and the deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine. On 23 February 2022, the EU expanded the sanctions in response to the recognition of the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine and the ordering of Russian armed forces into those areas. After 24 February 2022, in response to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, the EU massively expanded the sanctions. It added a significant number of persons and entities to the sanctions list, and adopted unprecedented measures with the aim of significantly weakening Russia's economic base, depriving it of critical technologies and markets, and significantly curtailing its ability to wage war.


In parallel, the EU sanctions regime concerning Belarus has been expanded in response to that country’s involvement in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and in addition to the sanctions already in place in view of the situation in Belarus. This sanctions regime consists of an array of financial, economic and trade measures.


Please find a complete overview, timeline, FAQs and much more on the EU Commissions’ website here:




Question?


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