Conclusions and recommendations

AuthorEuropean Anti-Fraud Office (European Commission)
th Annual Report on the Protection of the European Union’s financial interests — Fight against fraud 
. Conclusions and
.. Revenue
In 2018, solar panel s were the goods most af‌fected by fr aud and irreg ularities in mo ne-
tary term s as was the ca se in 2017 and 2016. The Comm ission carried ou t on-the- spot
inspectio ns on the control strate gy for solar panels in several M ember States in 2018 due
to the risks in volved (evasion of high amounts of a nti-dumping duties) an d due to various
mutual assist ance notice s issued by OLA F in the past yea rs. Member Sta tes’ awareness
about the vu lnerability of i mports of so lar panels to fr aud and irregu larities was r aised
which led to fur ther contro ls by Member State s in 2018. This only und erlines the im por-
tance of inves tigations conducte d by OLAF and its coor dination role in this par ticular f‌ield.
Revenue fraud t hrough the un dervaluatio n of goods impor ted in the EU will r emain a
threat to be dealt w ith in the comin g years. OL AF’s investigat ions on the und ervaluatio n
of textiles a nd shoes impor ted from China d emonstrate d that fraudster s will use any
loopholes an d that large-scale frau d can pay of‌f.
The digitalis ation of the glob al economy and n ew economic model s like e-commerce are
rapidly shii ng cross-border t rade from a few large/bulk shi pments to a la rge number of
low-value and small shipments.
Cross-border e -commerce trade of goods pos es risks for the EU ’s f‌inancial inter ests and
for the Member Sta tes. A particular risk is t he abuse of the low-value c onsignment reliefs
by: (i) underva luing e-comm erce trade goo ds; (ii) splitting c onsignment s so that they fall
below the relief t hreshold (EUR 150); (iii) impor ting commercial consign ments declared as
gis; or (iv) impor ting goods ineligible for the r elief.
Growing e-co mmerce requires that M ember States’ adapt t heir customs control st rategies
to strike the r ight balance betwe en trade facilitation /simplif‌ication and p rotecting the EU ’s
f‌inancial int erests.
A f‌lexible combi nation of dif‌ferent c ontrols is ther efore pivotal to c lose any loopho le ex-
ploited by frauds ters and to enable cus toms to successfully resp ond to dif‌ferent economic
models appl ied through te chnology (like e-commerce) an d to ef‌fectively protect t he EU’s
f‌inancial int erests while permittin g trade facilitation and simpl if‌ication.

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