Classification Regulations

In June and July 2012, the following Classification Regulations were published:

  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 553/2012 – classifying an unthreaded article of steel (other than stainless steel) with a hexagon head that is to be further worked into finished goods of heading 7318 (screws, bolts, nuts, coach screws, screw hooks, rivets, cotters, cotter pins, washers (including spring washers) and similar articles, of iron or steel), as an unfinished article within the meaning of GIR 2(a) of CN code 7318 15 89. 
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 554/2012 – classifying a decorative sprig to be used as a candle decoration consisting of artificial flowers, foliage and fruit under CN code 6702 90 00, as an article made of artificial flowers, foliage and fruit of other materials.
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 491/2012 – classifying infant feeding bottles made of plastic (polypropylene) and graduated, with a silicone nipple and a protector, as “tableware and kitchenware” under CN code 3924 10 00.
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 696/2012 – classifying insoles consisting of a flexible, forked spring section made of steel and an interchangeable cushioned pad made of various materials that are designed to reduce the burden on the feet and the whole body, as removable insoles under CN code 6406 90 50. 
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 697/2012 – classifying a so-called “transformer module with RJ 45 plug”, designed for a 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet network and for placement onto a printed circuit board for the purposes of connecting machines within a local area network for signal transmission and reception under CN Code 8517 70 90, as a part of apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network. 
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 698/2012 – classifying 3 types of so–called “multimedia centres for motor vehicles” under CN code 8528 59 40, as other colour monitors with a screen of the LCD technology.

Explanatory Notes

  • On 2 June 2012, the European Commission published an amendment to the Explanatory Notes to heading 2007 (jams, fruit jellies, marmalades, etc).
  • Also on 2 June 2012, the Commission replaced a paragraph in the Explanatory Notes to heading 2309 (preparations of a kind used in animal feeding).
  • On the same date, the Commission published an amendment to the Explanatory Notes to subheadings 0714 90 11 and 0714 90 19 (heading 0714 covers, amongst others, arrowroot, salep, Jerusalem artichokes, and similar roots and tubers).
  • On 27 June 2012, the European Commission published an additional Note 4 to Chapter 95 that applies with respect to combinations consisting of one or more articles of heading 9503 (Tricycles, scooters, pedal cars and similar wheeled toys; dolls’ carriages; dolls; other toys; reduced-size (“scale”) models and similar recreational models, working or not; puzzles of all kinds) combined with items of other headings. The note specifies that the classification of such combinations is to be determined by the items of heading 9503, and that the other components are not taken into account. 
  • Also on 27 June 2012, a note to Chapter 87 was published to provide a definition of derailleur gears for bicycles under subheading 8714 99 50.
  • An amendment published on 27 June 2012 replaces the existing Explanatory Notes with respect to printed circuits (heading 8534 00), and amends the text with respect to heading 8544 (insulated (including enamelled or anodised) wire, cable (including coaxial cable) and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors; optical fibre cables, made up of individually sheathed fibres, whether or not assembled with electric conductors or fitted with connectors). 
  • On 4 July 2012, the Commission published 5 Explanatory Notes to replace existing Explanatory Notes to heading 0102 (live bovine animals). 
  • On 24 July 2012, the Commission amended the text in the Explanatory Notes to subheading 0806 20 10 (Currants) and added two additional Explanatory Notes (0806 20 30 – Sultanas, and 0806 20 90 – Other).

Classification Opinions

On 19 June 2012, the European Commission published the amendments to the classification opinions approved by the WCO HS Committee. These amendments relate to the classification of, inter alia, cartridges for an electronic cigarette (3824 90) and assemblies of two multi-positional electrical switching devices arranged on two sides of a mounting bracket designed for mounting on the steering column of a motor vehicle (8537 10).

CJEU ruling on semiconductor polishing pads

On 19 July 2012, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) found in a French reference for a preliminary ruling (Case C-336/11, Rohm & Haas) that polishing pads intended for exclusive use for semiconductor wafer-polishing machines, but imported separately from such machines, should be classified under heading 3919. The Court reasoned that those pads could not be classified under the parts heading 8466 because they should not be considered as parts or accessories suitable for use solely with these waferpolishing machines because the functioning of those machines is not dependent on the presence of the polishing pads.

CJEU ruling on blood albumin

On 12 July 2012, the CJEU issued a judgment following a request for a preliminary ruling by the Netherlands on the classification of blood albumin prepared for therapeutic or prophylactic uses. In Case C-291/11 (Staatssecretaris van Financiën v. TNT Freight Management), the Court found that blood albumin which does not itself have a therapeutic or prophylactic effect, but which was produced for the preparation of products having such an effect, which is essential to that preparation and which may only be used for that purpose, should be considered as having been prepared for therapeutic or prophylactic use and concluded that it should therefore be classified under tariff subheading 3002 10 10 as a blood product. The Court rejected classification as albumin under Chapter 35, referring to an exclusion Note to that Chapter.

Nomenclature Committee

  1. Mechanical/Miscellaneous Sector

The public report of the meeting of the Mechanical/Miscellaneous Sector of the Nomenclature Committee that took place on 21-22 June 2012 reports the adoption of a favourable opinion on draft classification regulations regarding Fußelastic insoles, keypads, transformer modules with RJ 45 plugs, remote elevator monitoring (REM) units, and three types of DVD multimedia centres for motor vehicles (some of which have meanwhile been published – see elsewhere in this newsletter).

The Committee further examined the classification of body-composition analysers, connector parts, steel-wire clamps, and Universal Dual Port car chargers, USB cables, CCD sensors, audio-video players with reception apparatus for radio-broadcasting, metal boxes for champagne bottles, ornamental screws, party poker sets, hand-bikes, crawler carriers and anti-stress balls.

In addition, the Commission presented a draft CNEN amending the current CNEN to subheading 8504 40 30 (statistic converters of a kind used with telecommunication apparatus, automatic dataprocessing machines and units thereof).

The Committee was also informed that the vote on a draft Regulation on video monitors was postponed, and that the possible creation of a special subheading for video monitors operating solely or principally with automatic data-processing machines currently being explored internally, was suspended pending internal discussions.

The Commission was asked questions on the legal value and adoption procedure for “statements” and promised to examine these internally.

  1. CN Sector

The Combined Nomenclature (CN) Sector of the Nomenclature Committee met on 24-25 July 2012. The agenda of that meeting featured discussions and a vote on a possible amendment of CN code 7601 20 (aluminium alloys), the possible simplification of Chapter 27 (mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation, bituminous substances, mineral waxes) and the draft CN 2013.

The Committee was also scheduled to discuss, inter alia, the proposal for the creation of new CN codes for “Bio-Based Products” and the preliminary transposition of classification regulations into the 2013 version of the Combined Nomenclature.  

During the previous meeting (in May 2012), of which the report has only recently been made available, this Sector also discussed the possible introduction of new codes for certain rare-earth metals.  

  1. Heads of Tariff

The Heads of Tariff section of the Nomenclature Committee met on 24 May 2012. The report of that meeting indicates that the Nomenclature Committee discussed the recast of Regulation 2658/87 on the Tariff and Statistical Nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff. A discussion on whether Annex I to that Regulation should be amended once every two years, instead of annually also took place.

The Committee also discussed the efficiency of the Binding Tariff Information (BTI) system. The Commission proposed to solve classification inconsistencies in the short term by using a structured workflow. The Commission also presented a working paper on the possible overhaul of the BTI system in the future containing three options, including the transfer of the entire BTI process from the Member States to the Commission.  

The Committee exchanged views on the current and future review of the HS. The Commission further announced that it has finalised the draft global report on the first phase of monitoring visits that took place in the Member States on the BTI regime in 2007 and 2008, and which will soon be made available to the public.  

Other items discussed included, inter alia, the European Court of Auditor’s assessment on the BTI process, the interpretation of classification-related CJEU judgments, and the uniform classification of new products.  

  1. HS/WCO Coordination

The HS/WCO Coordination sector of the Nomenclature Committee met on 14-15 May 2012. During that meeting, the Chairman presented the results of the discussions held in the 49th meeting of the WCO HS Committee which took place in March 2012. The Committee also determined the position of the EU for the 43rd meeting of the HS Review Sub-Committee.

The Committee further decided to maintain the status quo regarding heading 84.13 (pumps) and Note 3 to Chapter 85 (machines for domestic purposes). The Committee held an in-depth discussion on a possible amendment of Section XI (textiles and textile articles) Chapter 64 (footwear), headings 41.04, 41.07, and 41.14 (leather) for HS 2017, and a possible amendment to heading 39.01 (polymers of ethylene, in primary forms). In addition, a discussion took place on the possible misalignment of the Notes to Section XVI and HS Explanatory Notes (HSENs) to heading 84.87.

Discussions also took place with respect to the possible amendment of Note 2 to Chapter 97 (works of art) and the HSENs to that Chapter.

The subsequent (90th) meeting of the HS/WCO Coordination sector took place on 4-5 July 2012. The Committee discussed the September 2012 meeting of the WCO HS Committee and the WCO’s recommendations on the standard of units in quantity which is applied in the CN.

In addition, the Committee considered a proposal to further subdivide heading 8456 (machine-tools working by laser) into a subheading for flat products and one for other products.

In the context of the possible misalignment of the Notes to Section XVI and the HS Explanatory Notes to heading 84.87, the Committee decided to ask the WCO secretariat for historic information regarding these HSENs.

The Committee also continued to discuss the possible amendment of heading 73.18 (fasteners) and Note 2 and the HSENs to Chapter 97 (works of art). The possible amendments of heading 94.01 (seat covers) for HS 2017 were also examined, as well as the possible amendment of the HSENs to heading 48.19 (cartons, boxes, cases, bags and other packing containers) and heading 96.03 (brooms, brushes, etc.).

Discussions took place on the possible simplification of classification of INN products (pharmaceutical substances or active pharmaceutical ingredients). In addition, the Chairman informed the Committee on the discussions in the WCO Policy Commission on how to better reflect in the HS requirements the needs of international organisations with respect to the fight against fraud, or protection of the security, environment and public health.

  1. Agriculture/Chemical Sector

On 4-6 June 2012, the Nomenclature Committee’s Agriculture/Chemical Sector met. During that meeting, the Committee delivered a favourable opinion on the draft measures regarding the classification of, inter alia, propolis in capsules, chitosan in capsules, capsules containing cultures of micro-organisms, and tablets consisting mainly of plant powders.

The Committee also examined a proposal for a classification statement on a herbal product called “Moxa”, a proposal for a new additional note to Chapter 21 with respect to food supplements, and the tariff classification of, inter alia, protein concentrates used for animal feeding, a product called “Partner cigarillos”, a heavy mineral oil named VGO, mixtures of ethyl-alcohol and ETBE, cleansing wipes, shower gels, miso paste, various rubber products for pharmaceutical use, and semiconductor wafer transport boxes.

The Committee further endorsed the revised report of the Project Group concerning the chemical chapters of HS/CN from 30 January 2012, and 18 April 2012.

  1. Textiles

On 18 June 2012, the Textile Sector of the Nomenclature Committee met and discussed the draft Commission Regulations on the classification of a control strip – bracelet, and garlands with artificial textile flowers. The Committee also examined the classification of a paper cylinder holding components of cigarettes, protective sleeves of textiles, and stockings for varicose veins.

The Chair also provided information to the Member States on a pending Court case (C-180/12) on the classification of a certain fabric imported as rolled-up strips for the production of vertical blinds.