Belgian customs authorities requested to turn a blind eye to minor administrative errors (temporaril
In preparation for a (possible) Brexit, the Belgian Parliament adopted the Act of 3 April 2019 on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The law may contain an ultimate escape from the (severe) penalties for infringements on Belgian customs legislation.
Article 44 of the Act introduces a new article to the General Belgian Customs Act. The article states that if an authorized economic operator is charged for an administrative customs irregularity but the latter proves to the satisfaction of the administration that the irregularity was committed in good faith and that he meets his obligations with regard to this irregularity, the customs administrator, with at least the grade of "Advisor-General", shall grant this automated economic operator exemption from any penalties. Irregularities committed in good faith refer to those committed without the intent to evade tax or to evade or enable the application of prohibition, control and/or restriction measures.
Although this article will be warmly welcomed in the sector, there are some snags to be found.
First of all, non-AEO certified economic operators are excluded. In addition, the legislation is in principle only valid for one year. The proof of good faith must also be provided "to the satisfaction of the official", which of course allows for a wide margin of interpretation.
It remains to be seen whether, on the basis of this legislation, many economic operators will be able to escape penalties for customs infringements.
The new legislation will enter into force on a date not yet specified.
source: Belgian State Gazette
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