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Parliamentary questions
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27 September 2017
Answer given by Mr Moscovici on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: P-005017/2017

The designation of free zones in the EU is the sole responsibility of Member States.

The Commission does not intend to propose the abolition of free zones because they are mainly a service for traders, that ensure fair and legal trading procedures while reducing customs formalities. All persons carrying on an activity that involves the storage, working or processing, or the sale or purchase, of goods in free zones must keep records which enable the customs authorities to supervise such activities. In cases of non-compliance with customs legislation or other legislation including provisions on the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, the customs authorities have to take the required action. The European Parliament is suggesting to include, in the revised 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive free zones among entities subject to anti-money laundering requirements. The Commission sees merit in such a suggestion.

With regard in particular to cultural goods from third countries that are entering the EU customs territory to be placed in free zones within the Union, the Commission has recently proposed a regulation(1) that would ensure the same controls for these goods as for cultural goods destined to be released for free circulation. The Commission is aware of fraudulent transhipments in free zones in third countries and the European Anti-Fraud Office is seeking the cooperation of the countries concerned at all stages of the logistical chain, i.e. at the port of loading, the port of transhipment and the final port of unloading in the EU, in order to prevent and fight this form of fraud.

(1)COM(2017) 375 final.

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