On 9 September, the Guardian reported that an EU Advocate General has advised in a non-binding opinion for the European Court of Justice that the UK government was negligent in its failure to tackle customs fraud that allowed criminal gangs to flood European markets with cheap Chinese-made clothes and shoes. It is said to bolster the position of EU authorities who have demanded the UK pay €2 billion in compensation to the EU budget. He concluded the UK had “failed to fulfil its obligations” under EU law to collect the correct amount of customs duties and VAT on imported Chinese goods and that measures adopted by the UK were manifestly ineffective. EU officials became concerned that importers were using fake invoices that undervalued clothes and shoes made in China and OLAF launched an operation to check import declarations, and this included a method to calculate undervalued goods. However, UK customs officials declined to use the EU method, arguing it was counterproductive and disproportionate.
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