Cigarettes and toys top EU customs seizures in 2016

Customs seized 41m fake goods at the EU's borders last year worth €670m, roughly in line with 2015's figures, with around a third of the total products that could harm human health.

The top categories of detained articles were cigarettes, which accounted for 24 per cent of the total, followed by toys (17 per cent), foodstuffs (13 per cent), and packaging materials (12 per cent).

"The category 'foodstuff' has made an enormous jump from almost the last place to number three mainly because of large amounts of candy detained," says the report.

China once again was far and away the biggest source of the counterfeits, but some other countries also featured prominently. For example, Singapore was a big source of alcoholic beverages, for example, while a lot of clothing accessories came from Iran and India was a big country of origin for falsified medicines. Large amounts of illicit cigarettes originated in Vietnam and Pakistan, and Hong Kong topped the rankings for counterfeit mobile phones.

Detentions in postal traffic went down with 28 per cent, but courier traffic and postal traffic together still accounted for almost three quarters of all detentions.

Products for daily use and products that would be potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers – food and beverages, bodycare articles, medicines, electrical household goods and toys – accounted for 34.2 per cent of the seizures, which was a significant increase on the 25.8 per cent seen in 2015, according to the report.

In more than 90 per cent of detentions, goods were either destroyed or a court case was initiated to determine an infringement or as part of criminal procedures. However, almost a quarter (23 per cent) of the articles was released because the right-holder did not react to the notification by customs (8 per cent) or they were eventually determined to be original goods (15 per cent).

"Studies show that the EU is particularly exposed to imports of counterfeit products," commented Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs.

"I want to pay tribute to the hard work of customs authorities in combating these fake goods," he continued. "They need support and resources to enable them to protect us all from the dangers that they can pose."

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