VAT E-Commerce Package: Customs Bugs in the System?

The VAT e-commerce package heavily reforms rules applying to imports of small consignment goods. Yet, import VAT literature strictly focuses on a VAT perspective only. Vice versa, this article, favouring a customs law point of view, underlines issues that might undermine the effective enforcement of the new import VAT platform collecting model. The author reaches three main conclusions. Firstly, article 14(4)(2) would either fail to cover current business models or lead to uneven application among Member States. This would emerge from a cumulative interpretation of Directive (EU) 2017/2455 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) (2019/2026). Secondly, since the introduced measures fail to take into account customs shortages and to coordinate with customs rules, they increase complexity rather than enhancing simplicity. Thirdly, the liability regime introduced by the reform might end up being stricter than intended. This, on the one hand, would shift liability from customs, posts and non-European suppliers to import platforms borne under an uncertain liability regime, which might require platforms to meet higher standards of proof, and, on the other, could prove to lead to indirect discrimination between EU and non-EU goods.