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EU Adviser Says Defense Importers Broke Rules

(CN) - Six European nations have violated the laws of the European Community by failing to pay customs duties on defense equipment imports, an adviser to Europe's highest court concluded.

Advocate General Damaso Ruiz-Jarabo urged the Court of Justice to declare that Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Greece and Germany failed to contribute the customs tax money to the Community's accounts.

Italy and Sweden were also found to have failed to collect customs duties on the import of dual-use equipment.

The violations took place from 1998 to 2002, the Commission claimed.

The Advocate General rejected the countries' claim that payment of the customs duties would burden them financially and weaken their ability to procure defense equipment, and by extension their military capacity and national security.

Ruiz-Jarabo said the states failed to show that the customs procedures threaten the confidentiality of their purchases.

Further, the community's regulations make no provisions for the retroactive suspension of customs duties, the advocate general stated.

Ruiz-Jarabo's opinion is non-binding, and the Court of Justice will have the final word on the issue.

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