The European Commission on September 24 announced its decision to send a Reasoned Opinion to the United Kingdom because of its failure to make customs duties available to the EU budget, as required by EU law.

This is the second step the Commission is taking in the formal infringement procedure for this case in order to protect the financial interests of the EU.

As reported by the Commission press release, Brussels opened the infringement procedure earlier this year after a 2017 report by the EU’s anti-fraud body OLAF, which found that importers in the United Kingdom evaded a large amount of customs duties by using fictitious and false invoices and incorrect customs value declarations at importation.

Further Commission inspections confirmed the very large scale of this undervaluation fraud scheme operating through British ports between 2011 and 2017. Despite having been informed of the risks of fraud relating to the imports of textiles and footwear originating from the People’s Republic of China since 2007, and despite having been asked to take appropriate risk control measures, the United Kingdom failed to take effective action to prevent the fraud.

According to the Reuters news agency, the move is the second step in the EU’s legal procedure against EU states who do not respect the bloc’s rules and comes in a crucial phase of talks for Britain’s exit from the EU.