New rules on collection of excise duties

New EU Regulation 389/2012 replaces current procedures on the movement of excise goods with an improved electronic one.

The new regulation
In the EU, Regulation 2073/2004/EC on administrative co-operation in the field of excise duties has provided a common system whereby, in order to ensure the correct application of legislation on excise duties and to combat their evasion and ensuing distortions in the internal market, Member States assist each other and co-operate with the European Commission. It was decided in 2011 that a number of changes needed to be made to that regulation in view of experiences to date and of recent developments. Given the number of changes seen to be necessary, it was decided that the 2004 Regulation should be entirely replaced rather than amended.

Accordingly, on 8 May 2012, the Council published Regulation 389/2012/EU. This contains new rules that remove the need for manual collection of operation statistics on the movement of excise goods, replacing the current procedures with an improved electronic one.

Computerising the information exchange between Member States on the excise of products (such as alcohol, tobacco and energy products) should make it easier and faster to collect excise duties that are due and improve Member States' controls on the revenue.

What stays the same
Exchange of information in excise matters is generally necessary in order to establish a true picture of the excise affairs of certain persons, but Member States are not at liberty to engage in "fishing expeditions" nor to request information that is unlikely to be relevant to the excise affairs of a given person or ascertainable group of persons.

For the purposes of a proper co-ordination of information flow, the provisions of Regulation 2073/2004/EU are maintained as regards a single point of contact in each Member State. Since more direct contacts between the authorities and officials of the Member States might be necessary for reasons of efficiency, the provisions on delegation and the designation of competent officials are also to be kept.

For the effective monitoring of excise procedures in cross-border movement, it has also been decided to continue to provide for the possibility of simultaneous controls by Member States and for the presence of officials of one State in the territory of another, within the framework of administrative co-operation.

The exchange of information with non-EU countries has proven beneficial for the correct application of legislation on excise duties and this too should be maintained, within the EU's laws on data protection.

What changes
The new regulation, which applied from 1 July 2012, enables Member States to better co-ordinate the use of the computerised Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS), which was introduced in 2010. The EMCS monitors the movement of excise goods for which duties still have to be paid. Automated procedures replace manual procedures wherever this information is electronically available within the EMCS. This, for example, includes information on road controls or interruptions in the movement of goods. Member States will not be entitled to refuse the provision of information solely on the basis of national rules on banking secrecy.

Feedback is an appropriate means to ensure continual improvement of the quality of the information exchanged and Regulation 389/2012/EU consequently provides a framework for the Member States to report back on how the system is working.

Member States must waive all claims for the reimbursement of expenses incurred in applying this regulation, with the exception of claims in respect of fees paid to experts. Traders should be able to speedily operate the verifications necessary for movements of excise goods. They will therefore be provided with the possibility of having the validity of excise numbers confirmed electronically through a central register operated by the Commission and fed by the information contained in national databases.

09.07.12

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