$405M ploughed into customs program.
European Union officials will meet today (July 18) and tomorrow in the Finnish town of Turku to decide how best to spend a €324 million ($405 million), six-year program to fight fraud and counterfeiting at Europe's borders.
The Customs 2013 program is intended to tighten procedures and clamp down on the smuggling of counterfeit products, including DVDs, CDs and software. The Turku meeting will focus on allocating the program's funds to develop IT systems as well as its "E-Customs" project aimed at setting up an EU-wide electronic and paper-free trading environment.
The current Finnish presidency of the EU has said it wants to prioritize customs reforms, and adopt the so-called e-customs initiative enabling the electronic processing of customs routines. These initiatives are the largest reforms in the customs sector that the EU has implemented so far.
The counterfeit goods trade in the EU is estimated to be worth around €400 billion ($501 billion) annually, with DVDs, CDs, and cassettes representing about a third of all items seized by EU authorities. Thailand is recognized as the biggest supplier to Europe of the pirated DVDs, CDs and cassettes during this period, accounting for 18% of the seizures, followed by Malaysia (14%), Pakistan (13%) and China (8%).