Brussels Plans To End Import Duty Exemptions

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Brussels Plans To End Import Duty Exemptions

In a bid to level the playing field and bolster the position of traders within the European Union (EU), Brussels is planning to impose import duties on goods valued up to 150 euros, which were previously exempted. The move follows the European Commission’s earlier abolishment of VAT exemptions. With these measures, the EU aims to address the growing challenges posed by cross-border trade and create a fairer market for all. This article explores the proposed changes and their potential implications for both consumers and businesses.

Closing the Import Duty Exemption Gap

As per the documents reviewed by Süddeutsche Zeitung, the EU Commission intends to introduce tariffs on all imports from third countries. Currently, any products imported from outside the EU, including purchases from American or Chinese online sellers, are subject to import duties. However, products valued up to 150 euros have been exempt from this obligation. This exemption has allowed many orders from international online shops to enter the EU without import duties. Brussels plans to rectify this situation by removing the exemption and imposing import duties on all goods, regardless of their value.

Building upon the Abolishment of VAT Exemptions

This is not the first time that Brussels has taken measures to curb the influx of cheap products from outside the EU. In a similar vein, two years ago, the VAT exemption for products up to 22 euros was abolished. Chinese online shops, such as AliExpress, felt the impact of this change as their sales declined. On July 1, 2021, the VAT exemption for products up to 22 euros was officially abolished. The latest proposal to remove the exemption on import duties extends the efforts to create a more level playing field for businesses within the EU.

Implications for Online Providers

The elimination of the import duty exemption will have ramifications for online providers from outside the EU, particularly those selling products valued up to 150 euros. The move is expected to benefit online sellers within the EU, as it reduces the price advantage that international sellers previously enjoyed. By imposing import duties, Brussels seeks to support local businesses and ensure fair competition in the EU market.

Introducing the EU Customs Authority

To facilitate these changes and enhance customs procedures, the European Commission has outlined plans for a new EU Customs Authority. This authority, expected to be operational within five years, will establish and maintain a new “data hub” to streamline information flows between member states and simplify customs procedures. The EU Customs Authority aims to improve efficiency, enhance cooperation among member states, and generate an estimated 750 million euros per year in import duties for the Union.


Brussels’ proposal to end exemptions on import duties for goods up to 150 euros reflects its commitment to bolstering the position of traders within the EU. By creating a more level playing field, the European Commission aims to support local businesses and foster fair competition. While these changes may impact online providers from outside the EU, the implementation of the new EU Customs Authority and associated reforms is expected to enhance customs procedures and streamline information flows. As the plans progress, it will be crucial to monitor their impact on cross-border trade and assess whether the desired objectives of fairness and competitiveness are achieved.

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