EU Law Customs Duties and Discriminatory Internal Taxation

Article 30 and Article 110 TFEU

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  • Created by: Chansa
  • Created on: 18-04-12 15:35

Free movement of goods

The free movement of goods is one of the four essential freedoms and forms of the cornerstone for the internal market. As quoted 'the most important of the...freedom is, without a doubt, the freedom of goods'.

Prohibition of Custom's Duties:

Article 30 TFEU

Article 30 specifically prohibits the introduction of new duties: "custom duties on imports and exports and charges having equivalent effect shall be prohibited between member states. This also applies to custom duties of a fiscal nature" (financial nature)

Meaning of Goods

The term 'goods' appears to mean items that can be 'valued' in money and are capable of forming subject matter of commercial transactions.

Items have to be tangible in order for Article 30 to apply.

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Covers duties applied directly/indirectly

If a charge is imposed only in domestically produced goods, then Article 30 is unlikely to apply. 

Apple & Pear Development Council v KJ Lewis Ltd (1983)

- The UK imposed a levi on the production of apples and pears in the UK. The levi was imposed to help fund the apple and pear development counsil to research parasites. The EU however, concluded that this was not an Article 30 issue.

Charges having EQUIVALENT EFFECT to custom's duties (CEE)

Commission v Luxembourg (1962)- Each country imposed a heavy tax on rye. Belgium & Luxembourg imposed a heavy charge on producers. Non discriminatory levies can also be caught by Article 30 as a CEE

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Test for a CEE

A CEE will exist if:

- The charge has the sole purpose if financing activities for the specific advantage of the domestic product

- If the taxed product and domestic product to benefit are the same

- If the charges imposed on the domestic product are made in FULL

Import/Export into a region of MS:

Administrative charges that are imposed at regional frontiers in Member States on exports of goods can also be a CEE. Even charges imposed at internal bars can be unlawful

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There are some exceptions to the application of Article 30. If an importer wants benefit, then it is possible to get a fee.

a) Services provided to an importer


- the service must be requested by the trader

- Identifiable and of direct benefit to the trader

- charge must be proportionate to the benefit received.

---> Commission v Italy. (Italy imposed a levy on goods which were exported to other Member States to finance the collecting of statistical data relating to trade patterns) 

"Any pecuniary charge, however small...imposed unilaterally on domestic or foreign goods...even if it is not imposed for the benefit of the state, is not discriminatory or protective in effect, and if the product on which the charge is imposed is not in competition with any domestic product"

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Fees for services required by law

b) Charge is a genuine tax covered by Article 110

Article 110 and Article 30 are mutually exclusive. Sometimes it is unclear which Article applies.

Inspections carried out to fulfil mandatory obligations laid down by EU Law. 

Bauhais v The Netherlands State (1977)- Vet inspections for pigs

- Inspections carried out to fulfill obligations laid down by instructions of general international law to which all member states are a party to.

Recovery of illegal charges:

Article 30 is directly effective. Authorities must not make recovery difficult. Where charges have been passed then the principle of unjust enrichment may prevent recovery.

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