Brussels, 28 February 2008
The Commission refers Portugal to the Court of Justice due to its legislation on the movement and holding of products subject to excise duties
The European Commission has decided to refer Portugal to the Court of Justice for certain national provisions which, in the Commission's opinion, do not comply with EU legislation on the movement and holding of goods subject to excise duties. The Commission believes that the Portuguese rules create a burden for traders that is disproportionate to the objective pursued.
Portugal requires that the 'accompanying administrative document' is sent to the competent customs office at least six working hours before the products which are subject to excise duties leave the warehouses in its territory. The Commission is of the opinion that the relevant Community legislation (Article 19 of Directive 92/12/EEC) cannot be interpreted as allowing Member States to impose such a condition. The Portuguese legislation is likely to jeopardize the correct operation of the internal market with regard to these products and cannot be justified as a necessary means to avoid tax fraud, for it results clearly disproportionate to that aim.
Further to the above, according to Portuguese Law, authorized warehouse keepers have to provide a guarantee for the holding of products subject to excise duty. The guarantee generally amounts to 2% of the average monthly amount of excise duty paid during the previous year, with a minimum and a maximum threshold. The Commission understands that the amount of this holding guarantee is disproportionate to the aim pursued (namely, to secure the revenue potentially at risk) and may act as an effective barrier for traders wishing to enter into the Portuguese market.
In July 2007, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Portugal (see IP/07/998). Since Portugal did not amend its legislation within the requested deadline, the Commission has decided to submit the case to the Court of Justice.
The Commission's case reference number is 2000/4264.
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