Digital camera prices could soon rise under European Commission ?plans? to reclassify them as ?camcorders?, potentially subjecting them to an import duty as high as 12.5%, warn UK photo industry chiefs.

There are fears that digital still cameras could soon by classed in the same category as camcorders if they include a facility to record short movie sequences.

We understand that the European Commission is set to discuss the issue at a meeting in Brussels later this month.

Digital still cameras are currently exempt from import duty because they are classed as ?information technology products?, according to the UK-based Photo Imaging Council (PIC) which is fighting against any such move.

?At present, no digital cameras are manufactured inside the European Union so consumers in Europe will have to pay much more for digital cameras in the future,? warns PIC in a statement released to the press yesterday.

Video cameras, claim PIC, attract a customs excise duty of between 4.9% and 12.5% when they enter European markets from a non-European country.

A spokesman for HM Revenue & Customs confirmed to AP that digital still cameras are currently exempt from import duty when entering a European country. And PIC’s figures appear to be confirmed by the online customs tariff database of the European Union?s website.

The trade body adds: ?The international photo industry and photo traders have urged Brussels to comply with the Information Technology Agreement of the World Trade Organisation, countering arguments that digital cameras with video function can be equated with dedicated camcorders in terms of customs legislation? Considerable resistance is emerging against these plans that are clearly opposed to the interests of European importers, traders and consumers.?

PIC understands that the new rules are being considered by the Nomenclature Committee of the European Commission.

However, no-one from the European Commission was available for comment at the time of writing.

A PIC spokeswoman told AP: ?The industry is doing what it can to influence the Nomenclature Committee into not changing the tariff but we won?t know until the committee sits again to make a decision.?

PIC says it is fighting against the plans with trade associations across Europe, Asia and America.

? A full report will appear in an upcoming issue of AP, in shops each Tuesday