15 July 2016

EP IMCO Committee adopts Kaja Kallas report on customs infringements and sanctions

The report of Kaja Kallas (ALDE/Estonia) on the Commission proposal for a directive on customs infringement and sanctions has been adopted on the 14th of July by the IMCO Committee, with 24 votes in favour, 4 against and 3 abstentions.

A large majority of the compromise amendments presented before the vote, and already discussed between the rapporteur and the other political groups, were adopted. In comparison with the initial proposal from the Commission, CLECAT is of the opinion that the text adopted by the IMCO Committee is an improvement.

In line with the positions expressed in CLECAT position paper (link), the report of the IMCO Committee:

  • Clarifies that sanctions proposed under the Directive are non-criminal sanctions;
  • Defines in a more concrete way the distinction between intention and negligence;
  • Removes the concept of strict liability;
  •  Moves towards the imposition of fines based on customs duties evaded and not the valuation attached to the goods;
  • Adds the possibility of introducing a settlement option.

However, CLECAT questions the relevance of several adopted amendments. In particular the fact that Member States may provide for the imposition of criminal sanctions, in accordance with national laws and Union law, instead of non-criminal sanctions where the nature and gravity of the infringement in question so requires. While the purpose of the Directive is to approximate national laws on customs infringements, this specific amendment could jeopardize the expected outcomes of the Directive.

The vote on the IMCO report is planned in Parliament plenary session on the 22nd of November 2016. This means that the Council will probably start its works on the legislative proposal at the beginning of next year, under the Maltese Presidency.