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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Allocation of EU import and export quotas and licences

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Allocation of EU import and export quotas and licences


Regulation (EC) No 717/2008 — administering quantitative quotas



  • It establishes rules for the administration of EU import and export quotas.


Certain products are excluded from the regulation, including agricultural products listed in Annex I to the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.

Among the general principles for administering EU quotas are:

  • quotas should be allocated among applicants as soon as possible;
  • quotas may be administered using one or a combination of specific methods, e.g. based on traditional trade flows, or on a ‘first come, first served’ basis;
  • publication of a notice in the Official Journal of the EU announcing the quotas.

Specific rules for the different methods of administering quotas are set out. So, for example, for the method:

  • based on traditional trade flows, one portion of the quota is set aside as a priority for traditional importers or exporters, i.e. those that can show that they have previously imported into or exported from the EU the product covered by the quota;
  • based on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, the European Commission determines the quantity to which the importers or exporters are entitled until the quota is exhausted;
  • allocating quotas in proportion to the quantities requested, the Commission determines the quantity of the quota based on the information from EU countries on the number of licence applications they have received.

In relation to the ‘first come, first served’ method, import and export licences authorising the import or export of the relevant products are to be issued immediately. In all other cases, they are issued within 10 days of notification of the relevant Commission decision or within the time limit set by the Commission.


It applies from 15 August 2008.


Over the years, as more and more countries have become members of the World Trade Organization, this regulation in practice now only applies to imports from a limited number of countries. It currently applies to imports of textiles from Belarus and North Korea. There are no quantitative quotas on EU exports.


Council Regulation (EC) No 717/2008 of 17 July 2008 establishing a Community procedure for administering quantitative quotas (Codified version) (OJ L 198, 26.7.2008, pp. 1–7)

See corrigendum.

last update 15.03.2016