Finance

The Netherlands blunders in remittance to the EU, noose of 170 million possible

The Ministry of Finance wrote this in a letter to the House of Representatives today.

Import duties

It appears to go wrong with the payment of import duties. Goods coming from outside the EU almost always have to pay import duties. These are European levies and the Netherlands must therefore pay them almost entirely to Brussels.

That doesn’t always go well. An inspection by the European Commission revealed that the Customs administration was not in order and random checks showed that too little money is actually being transferred.

Interest doubles costs

In total, the European Commission believes that the Netherlands has wrongly failed to transfer 97.5 million euros. For 9.9 million euros of this, the Netherlands admits that it has made a mistake.

That money is definitively transferred, plus another 19 million euros in interest. Those costs have risen to more than double the amount paid overdue, as the business has been going on since 2014.

87.6 million euros disputed

The Netherlands will transfer the remaining 87.6 million euros subject to change. The Ministry of Finance disagrees with the Commission that that amount still has to be paid back, but is doing so anyway, because the interest rate is soaring.

If the final conclusion is that that 87.6 million must also simply be paid, the Netherlands will also pay another 100 to 150 million euros in default interest. By paying the additional tax subject to reservation, the interest amount will in any case not increase further.

challenge

In extreme cases, the state can go to the European Court of Justice to challenge the additional assessment if the government and the European Commission cannot resolve it.

The (alleged) mistakes are made when Customs corrects declarations from importing companies, after signals of fraud. In the offending cases, the customs authorities imposed an additional assessment on those companies, but the additional assessment was never paid. And so the Netherlands did not pay to Brussels either.

According to the Commission, the Netherlands should have done better to collect the money. By failing to meet the best efforts obligation, according to Brussels, the Netherlands itself is responsible for the uncollected amounts, and must therefore also pay for it itself.

Better control promised

To prevent this kind of misery in the future, the auditing of the accounts will be improved, writes outgoing Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra.

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