EU customs investigators get new, powerful tools to combat fraud

As of today, customs investigators across the European Union will be able to use new electronic tools to combat customs fraud more effectively. Through an update of customs rules, authorities will be able to access new IT systems that record the physical movements of containers transported on maritime vessels and gather information on the goods entering, transiting and leaving the EU. These new instruments will allow the EU and its Member States to better track and trace suspicious shipments and to better detect customs fraud. “Customs fraud is a drain on public budgets and we need to counter it with an effective and smart response” said European Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva, welcoming the implementation of the new legal provisions. “Thanks to new IT tools, public authorities will be better equipped to address this challenge without disrupting legitimate trade” she added. Customs fraud – for example, the misdeclaration of product origin, undervaluation, or misdescription of goods at import – causes significant damage to the EU’s financial interests. Given the transnational nature of such fraud, cooperation between customs authorities is essential. The amended legislation will help speed up OLAF investigations by setting out deadlines for Member States to provide investigation-related documents. It will also facilitate the use of information obtained on the basis of mutual assistance as evidence in national judicial proceedings.