Saturday, 24 January 2009

EU customs duties: Associated overseas countries and territories

The asymmetric relationship between the EU member states and the associated overseas countries and territories (OCTs) is illustrated by the provisions on customs duties.

Customs duties are prohibited with regard to goods imported and originating from an OCT into an EU member states (paragraph 1).

Customs duties are prohibited with regard to imports from an EU member state or another OCT into an OCT (paragraph 2), but with the sizable exception that non-discriminatory customs duties which meet thee needs of its development and industrialisation or produce revenue for its budget (fiscal nature) are allowed (paragraphs 3 and 5).

Article 25 TEC referred to comprises not only to customs duties on imports and exports, but also to charges having equivalent effect.

The current Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) sets out the principles concerning customs duties with regard to the non-European associated countries and territories in Article 184:




Article 184 TEC

1. Customs duties on imports into the Member States of goods originating in the countries and territories shall be prohibited in conformity with the prohibition of customs duties between Member States in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty.

2. Customs duties on imports into each country or territory from Member States or from the other countries or territories shall be prohibited in accordance with the provisions of Article 25.

3. The countries and territories may, however, levy customs duties which meet the needs of their development and industrialisation or produce revenue for their budgets.

The duties referred to in the preceding subparagraph may not exceed the level of those imposed on imports of products from the Member State with which each country or territory has special relations.

4. Paragraph 2 shall not apply to countries and territories which, by reason of the particular international obligations by which they are bound, already apply a non-discriminatory customs tariff.

5. The introduction of or any change in customs duties imposed on goods imported into the countries and territories shall not, either in law or in fact, give rise to any direct or indirect discrimination between imports from the various Member States.


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Consolidated Lisbon Treaty


Article 184 TEC underwent no specific amendments, so we move on to the consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU, where the corresponding provision is Article 200 (OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/138):

(PART FOUR
ASSOCIATION OF THE OVERSEAS COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES)


Article 200 TFEU
(ex Article 184 TEC)

1. Customs duties on imports into the Member States of goods originating in the countries and territories shall be prohibited in conformity with the prohibition of customs duties between Member States in accordance with the provisions of the Treaties.

2. Customs duties on imports into each country or territory from Member States or from the other countries or territories shall be prohibited in accordance with the provisions of Article 30.

3. The countries and territories may, however, levy customs duties which meet the needs of their development and industrialisation or produce revenue for their budgets.

The duties referred to in the preceding subparagraph may not exceed the level of those imposed on imports of products from the Member State with which each country or territory has special relations.

4. Paragraph 2 shall not apply to countries and territories which, by reason of the particular international obligations by which they are bound, already apply a non-discriminatory customs tariff.

5. The introduction of or any change in customs duties imposed on goods imported into the countries and territories shall not, either in law or in fact, give rise to any direct or indirect discrimination between imports from the various Member States.


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OCT background and perspectives




The Commission’s Green Paper on future OCT relations. The Communication Future relations between the EU and the Overseas Countries and Territories, Brussels, 25.6.2008 COM(2008) 383 final, presents the existing relations between the European Union and the OCTs as well as questions about the future:

http://ec.europa.eu/development/icenter/repository/1_EN_ACT_part1_v8.pdf

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Overview legal framework


Annex III The Overseas Association Decision of 27 November 2001 (page 28 to 31) of the Commission Staff Working Document accompanying the Green Paper Future relations between the EU and the Overseas Countries and Territories, Brussels, 25.6.2008 SEC(2008) 2067, presents a summary of legal framework ruling the relationship between the EU and the OCTs, both the development assistance aspect and the economic and trade relations:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=SEC:2008:2067:FIN:EN:PDF


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Trade relations overview

Annex IV Working document on the trade arrangements between the Community and the OCTs (page 32 to 38) of the Staff Working Document discusses regional integration, rules of origin, trade-related issues and transhipment.


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Overseas Association Decision


The more exact arrangements are set out in the Overseas Association Decision 2001/822/EC, as amended and extended until 31 December 2013.



Ralf Grahn