A Europe that protects: EU customs seized over 31 million fake goods at EU borders in 2017

Moscovici Customs 2018__

Pierre Moscovici, Member of the EC in charge of Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs hold a press conference on the successfully conclusion of three year European Stability Mechanism (ESM) stability support programme for Greece. © European Union , 2018 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lukasz Kobus.

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

Although the total figures have declined since 2016, fake potentially dangerous goods for day-to-day use like healthcare products, medicines, toys and electrical goods now make up a much higher proportion of all seizures – 43% of all detained goods came from this category. Overall, the top category of fake goods was foodstuffs, accounting for 24% of the overall amount of detained articles. This was followed by toys (11%), cigarettes (9%) and clothes (7%).

Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs said: “The EU’s Customs Union is on the front line when it comes to protecting citizens from fake, counterfeit and sometimes highly dangerous goods. Stopping imports of counterfeits into the EU also supports jobs and the wider economy as a whole. The European Union stands in support of intellectual property and will continue our campaign to protect consumer health as well as protecting businesses from criminal infringement of their rights.

In terms of modes of transport, 65% of all detained articles entered the EU via the maritime route, usually in large consignments. This was followed by air traffic which transported 14% of fake articles. Third was courier traffic and postal traffic which together accounted for 11% and were mainly made up of consumer goods ordered online such as shoes, clothing, bags and watches.

China remains the main country of origin for fake goods entering the EU. The highest amount of fake clothing originated from Turkey while the most counterfeit mobile phones and accessories, ink cartridges and toners, CDs/DVDs and labels, tags and stickers entered the EU from Hong Kong and China. India was the top country of origin for fake, and potentially harmful, medicines. In 90% of detentions, goods were either destroyed or a court case was initiated to determine an infringement or as part of criminal procedures.


Over the past 50 years, the Customs Union has developed into a cornerstone of our Single Market, keeping EU borders safe and protecting our citizens from prohibited and dangerous goods such as weapons, drugs and counterfeit products.

The Commission’s report on customs actions to enforce intellectual property rights has been issued annually since 2000 and is based on data transmitted by Member States’ customs administrations to the Commission.

This year’s figures highlight the importance of the measures presented last year by the Commission to ensure that intellectual property rights are well protected, thereby encouraging European companies, in particular SMEs and start-ups, to invest in innovation and creativity. That initiative has the objective of making it easier to act efficiently against breaches of IPR, facilitate cross-border litigation, and tackle counterfeited or pirated goods being imported into the EU.

The data provide valuable information which supports the analysis of intellectual property rights infringements and helps other institutions such as the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the OECD to map economic data and the most common routes for counterfeiters.


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