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Customs authorities detain nearly 36 million fake goods at EU borders in 2013

Customs authorities in the EU detained almost 36 million items suspected of violating intellectual property rights (IPR) in 2013, according to the Commission's annual report on customs actions to enforce IPR. Although this is less than previous years, the value of the intercepted goods still represents more than € 760 million. Yesterday’s report also gives statistics on the type, provenance and transport method of counterfeit products detained at the EU's external borders.

Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and Audit said: “Innovation and creativity is where Europe creates value. Protecting Intellectual Property Rights is not only important for health and safety of European consumers but also supports growth and job creation in the EU. The figures in today's report show that counterfeiting afflicts all products and that customs authorities do a good job intercepting fakes."

Clothing (12% of all articles detained) and medicines (10%) are among the top categories of goods detained. Postal and courier packages accounted for around 70% of customs interventions in 2013, with 19% of the detentions in postal traffic concerning medicines. Around 90% of all detained goods were either destroyed or a court case was initiated to determine the infringement. China continues being the main source of fake products with 66% of all products detained coming from China and 13% coming from Hong Kong. Other countries, however, were the top source for specific product categories, such as Turkey for perfumes and cosmetics and Egypt for foodstuffs.


As the EU 2020 Strategy underlines, the protection of IPR is a cornerstone of the EU economy and a key driver for its further growth in areas such as research, innovation and employment. Effective IPR enforcement is also essential for health and safety, as certain counterfeited products (such as foodstuffs, body-care articles and children’s toys) which are produced in an unregulated environment can pose a serious threat to citizens.

Customs authorities in the EU play a crucial role in stopping products which are suspected of violating intellectual property rights from entering the EU's territory. Since 2000, the Commission has been publishing an annual report on the activities of customs in relation to enforcing intellectual property rights. These reports, based on data transmitted by national customs administrations to the Commission, are a valuable input to the analysis of IPR infringement in the EU by customs and by EU institutions like the Observatory on infringements of intellectual property rights.

In June 2013, a new Regulation on IPR enforcement at customs was adopted (see MEMO/11/332 andMEMO/13/527). This reinforces the rules for customs authorities to enforce intellectual property rights.

On 10 December 2012, the EU Customs Action Plan was adopted by the EU Council of Ministers to combat intellectual property right infringements for the years 2013 to 2017 (see MEMO/12/967). The strategic objectives of this Action Plan are the following:

  • Effectively implementing and monitoring the new EU legislation on customs enforcement of IPR;

  • Tackling trade of IPR infringing goods throughout the international supply chain;

  • Tackling major trends in trade of IPR infringing goods;

  • Strengthening cooperation with the European Observatory on infringements of IPRs and law enforcement authorities.

Useful links

See also: MEMO/14/501

For the full report, see:

Stock-shots are available on EbS:

Still photos available on AV portal:

For a specific example, see the recent operation carried out by Polish Customs authorities:

Homepage of Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta, EU Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-fraud Commissioner:

Follow Commissioner Šemeta on Twitter: @ASemetaEU

Contacts :

Emer Traynor (+32 2 292 15 48)

Franck Arrii (+32 2 297 22 21)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail

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