In the case of a major market disturbance, the EU may grant export refunds for basic agricultural products exported in the form of processed products (PAPs). To claim these export refunds, exporters must hold a refund certificate. An exemption for the refund certification exists for small exports.
The refund certificate system aims to ensure that the EU complies with its obligations under the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, which sets out a ceiling for export refunds paid for PAPs. The system also guarantees that the refunds paid to a certificate holder do not exceed the amount stated on the certificate.
The certificate system enables exporters of PAPs to know in advance whether their exports will be eligible for refunds. The holder of a refund certificate must use his certificate fully by applying for refunds to the amount for which the certificate was issued on goods exported in a given period of time. To ensure compliance with this obligation, applicants for refund certificates must lodge a security worth 10% of the amount applied for.
Refund certificates are allocated in six tranches each year. Applications for certificates may be submitted at the latest on:
- 7 September for certificates for use from 1 October;
- 7 November for certificates for use from 1 December;
- 7 January for certificates for use from 1 February;
- 7 March for certificates for use from 1 April;
- 7 May for certificates for use from 1 June;
- 7 July for certificates for use from 1 August.
Applications for refund certificates are addressed to the competent national authority. Exporters may only apply for the tranche corresponding to the first closing date following the date of submission.
Where applications to a tranche exceed the amounts available under that tranche, a reduction coefficient is applied. If no reduction coefficient is applied, applications for refund certificates for any amount remaining available for that tranche may be lodged on a weekly basis up to the closing date of the next period.
An annual reserve of €80 million is set aside for ‘small exporters’.
An exporter does not need to hold a valid refund certificate to claim export refunds if their requests do not exceed €200 000 within a given budget year. For claims exceeding €200 000, the exporter must hold a valid refund certificate.
Inward Processing Regime without examination of the economic conditions
Where there is a forecasted shortfall between the demand for Non-Annex I export refunds and the amounts available for the payment of those refunds, certain agricultural products may be admitted under inward processing arrangements without prior examination of the economic conditions, to bridge the gap between demand and availability.
The Commission determines the quantities of basic products available under this provision on the basis of a supply balance. To establish the supply balance, the Commission compares available funds and the forecast refund requirements. It also takes account of the situation in the EU market for the commodities concerned. These quantities are subject to regular reviews to take account of economic and regulatory developments. The total quantities available under this scheme are published no later than 30 September of each year.
These quantities are allocated by way of inward processing (IP) certificates. To apply for IP certificates, operators must:
- hold a valid refund certificate, or
- have held one in the previous budget period, or
- have benefited from the small exporters' reserve in the ongoing or previous budget period.
IP certificates are valid until the end of the third month following that in which they were applied for. The holder of a valid IP certificate may make a single application to the customs authority in an EU country for authorisation to use inward processing arrangements for a quantity of basic products less than, or equal to, the quantity referred to in the certificate. The economic conditions referred to in Article 117(c) of regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 shall be deemed to have been met.