EU’s “Green Import Tariff” begins its transitional phase

Compliance implications for middle market supply chain partners

Feb 23, 2024
ESG International tax
Business tax Energy Supply chain Manufacturing

Executive summary: CBAM begins its transitional phase

Phased implementation for the European Union’s (EU) landmark tool to combat carbon leakage, the Carbon Based Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) became effective on Oct. 1, 2023, followed by the filing of the first quarterly report on Jan. 31, 2024.This means that EU importers of certain cement, iron, steel, aluminum, fertilizers or electricity products must begin reporting embedded greenhouse gas emissions in the production of these products.

CBAM compliance and quarterly reporting requirements

The EU’s landmark tool to combat carbon leakage, the Carbon Based Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), began its transitional phase on Oct. 1, 2023 which will run through Dec. 31, 2025. This period introduces new compliance and quarterly reporting requirements for entities in the EU that import certain cement, iron, steel, aluminum, fertilizers or electricity products from non-EU suppliers. As such, EU importers must report on the volume of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) embedded in the production of these particular products without making any payments. Reports are due at the end of the month for the preceding quarter. This first report was due on Jan. 31, 2024.

The reporting obligations under the CBAM are complex and require a new type of collaboration between supply chain partners. Gradually phasing in the requirements allows suppliers of these products to the EU to familiarize themselves with the new regulatory framework and provide the requisite data to their customers. It also allows the European Commission (EC) to use the information gathered from the reports to refine the methodology and assess the feasibility of including additional downstream products for the go-live period that starts in 2026.

CBAM requires the declarant (i.e., importer or its indirect customs representative) to report embedded emissions data on materials subject to CBAM based on actual data it receives from its suppliers, including:

  • commodity codes
  • quantities of relevant imported products for the quarter by origin country and production site
  • embedded direct and indirect (if applicable) GHGs
  • carbon price due in country of origin if pertinent

For the first three quarterly reports, if a declarant cannot obtain the actual values, they may report default values that reflect average emissions that are published by the EC, along with a short explanation of why actual data is not used. This provision allows declarants to be able to report while they set up their CBAM processes and gather actual values from suppliers. The EC also allows declarants to modify and resubmit their first two CBAM reports through July 31, 2024. However, only submitted reports may be modified, so it is important for a declarant to submit reports even if they are incomplete or incorrect.

From Aug. 1, 2024 through the end of 2025, the declarant may only use default values for up to 20% of the embedded emissions of imports of complex goods. The remaining 80% of emissions data will need to be reported based on actual values provided from suppliers and/or manufacturers.

Once the definitive system becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2026, importers of CBAM goods will no longer need to file quarterly reports, but rather one annual report due May 31. Additionally, companies will need to obtain an authorization to import CBAM goods and buy and surrender CBAM certificates to offset embedded GHG emissions on imported goods. There will be a gradual phase-in for certificates starting at 3.5%, increasing to 49.5% in 2030 and 100% coverage in 2034.

Recommended next steps

With the new CBAM reporting requirement in effect, impacted EU importers should take immediate steps to prepare. From stakeholder mapping and engagement to managing data, RSM can assist companies manage the process, including:

  • Conducting an assessment that identifies products in scope and possible exemptions or reductions under CBAM;
  • Determining CBAM’s financial and compliance impact;
  • Collecting emissions data from supply chain partners;
  • Supporting in the preparation of quarterly CBAM reporting based on default values; and
  • Building a governance infrastructure to manage CBAM requirements and associated risks

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