In 2005, EU customs seized more than 75 million counterfeited and pirated goods.
Cosmetics, medicines and other goods that can seriously damage the health of consumers continue to be faked in large quantities. Changes in the routes of fraud, an increased range of products being copied and the use of the internet in selling counterfeit goods make customs job even more challenging.
The European Commission said that its response is being implemented via the Community's Anti-Counterfeiting Customs Action Plan.
"A secret wave of dangerous fakes is threatening the people in Europe," said EU taxation and customs commissioner Laszlo Kovacs.
"The key is to be faster than the counterfeiters. We must quickly identify, and act to deal with, new routes of fraud and constantly changing counterfeit patterns to protect our health, safety and the economy."
Customs seized around 75 million articles in 2005, and the number of customs cases involving fakes increased to more than 26,000. Growth in seizures of fakes dangerous to health and safety also continued. For the first time ever, more than 5 million counterfeit foodstuff, drinks and alcohol products were seized.
Since the launch of the Commission's Customs Action Plan to combat counterfeiting and piracy, a number of actions have been initiated. These include targeted time limited Operational customs actions at major ports and airports in Europe.
A recently finalised customs action has already led to the seizure of more than 90 large maritime containers of fake products and more are expected.
Cosmetic giants such as L'Oreal, Beiersdorf and Johnson & Johnson have all targeted the counterfeit craze by launching anti-counterfeit drives in the Middle East and China, areas supposedly at the heart of the operations.
Managing director for the Middle East and West Asia of Beiersdorf, Robert Taylor-Hughes stated 'A counterfeit item is as good as cash, counterfeiters are not just a few guys in a shed mixing cream and pouring them into a tin. They are linked to organised crime, money laundering and, in some cases, even terror groups. And they always find the weakest route to the market,'.