FTA: “EU Commission’s Attempt to Reclaim Recovered Duties from Companies Unacceptable”
Concretely, the proposal refers to a controversial series of anti-dumping duties imposed on imports of leather shoes from China that expired in March 2011. In 2012 the ECJ issued two judgments annulling certain duties --allowing some EU companies to request a reimbursement-- that the Commission is now seeking to reclaim. Mr. Eggert noted that many EU retailers were already suffering as a result of the recession when the original duties were imposed and was very concerned that “the possibility that the fortunate few that were able to reclaim the duties may now have to repay those duties is deeply unsettling”.
The proposal has been criticised for containing flawed and vague reasoning. Furthermore, experts question the legality of imposing duties retroactively --particularly on what is now a non-existent piece of legislation-- and whether the Commission is, as it claims, complying with the Court’s judgment correctly. EU Member States certainly appear to agree as the Anti-Dumping Committee, consisting of government experts from each of the EU Member States, recently voted 17 to 11 against the proposal.
The FTA is in agreement with those doubting parties and has serious concerns of the precedent that would be set if the proposal is successful. "How can the European Commission essentially ignore the judgment and seek to re-impose duties retroactively? By doing so it seriously undermines the authority of the Court. And not only for this case but potentially for all future cases”, Mr. Eggert said.
The Commission has often re-opened anti-dumping investigations in order to correct failings highlighted within a judgment by the EU Court and has consequently re-imposed duties. However, that has only ever occurred when the anti-dumping measures in question are still in force whereas the duties imposed on shoes expired almost three years ago. “Everyone, perfectly reasonably, assumed that this case was dead and buried”, said Mr. Eggert “but evidently the Commission cannot let it lie. It seems to be almost obsessed by this case”.
The Commission has assured Member States that it will not proceed without approval from the EU Council, without which the proposal cannot be implemented.
For more information, please contact:
Stuart Newman, Legal Advisor
+32 (0)2 741 64 04
Note to editor:
FTA is Europe's premier association for trade policy and global supply chains. FTA represents retailers, importers and brand manufacturers in the political arena and in public to promote and defend free trade and supports their international business by providing information and practical solutions. The association supports its members to improve sustainability in the international supply chain.