Sunday, 20 April 2008

EU TFEU: Exceptions to free movement of capital

Article 58 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) provides for exceptions to the free movement of capital and payments, and these are taken over by the Treaty of Lisbon in Article 65 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The Lisbon Treaty provision adds a new possibility to take restrictive measures as regards third countries.


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Article 65 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) is presented as it stands after the intergovernmental conference (IGC 2007) in the Treaty of Lisbon (ToL) and provisionally consolidated by the Council of the European Union (document 6655/08; page 94-95), with the location of the provision added from the table of equivalences (page 460 to 462):

Part Three ‘Policies and internal actions of the Union’

Title IV TFEU (ex Title III) ‘Free movement of persons, services and capital’

Chapter 4 ‘Capital and payments’

Article 65 TFEU
(ex Article 58 TEC)

1. The provisions of Article 63 shall be without prejudice to the right of Member States:

(a) to apply the relevant provisions of their tax law which distinguish between taxpayers who are not in the same situation with regard to their place of residence or with regard to the place where their capital is invested;

(b) to take all requisite measures to prevent infringements of national law and regulations, in particular in the field of taxation and the prudential supervision of financial institutions, or to lay down procedures for the declaration of capital movements for purposes of administrative or statistical information, or to take measures which are justified on grounds of public policy or public security.

2. The provisions of this Chapter shall be without prejudice to the applicability of restrictions on the right of establishment which are compatible with the Treaties.

3. The measures and procedures referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall not constitute a means of arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction on the free movement of capital and payments as defined in Article 63.

4. In the absence of measures pursuant to Article 64(3), the Commission or, in the absence of a Commission decision within three months from the request of the Member State concerned, the Council, may adopt a decision stating that restrictive tax measures adopted by a Member State concerning one or more third countries are to be considered compatible with the Treaties in so far as they are justified by one of the objectives of the Union and compatible with the proper functioning of the internal market. The Council shall act unanimously on application by a Member State.

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The intergovernmental conference (IGC 2007) mentions Article 58 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) in Article 2, point 61, of the Treaty of Lisbon (ToL). See OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/56:

61) In Article 58, the following new paragraph 4 shall be added:

‘4. In the absence of measures pursuant to Article 57(3), the Commission or, in the absence of a Commission decision within three months from the request of the Member State concerned, the Council, may adopt a decision stating that restrictive tax measures adopted by a Member State concerning one or more third countries are to be considered compatible with the Treaties insofar as they are justified by one of the objectives of the Union and compatible with the proper functioning of the internal market. The Council shall act unanimously on application by a Member State.’.

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The latest consolidated version of the current Article 58 TEC looks like this (OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/64):

Article 58 TEC

1. The provisions of Article 56 shall be without prejudice to the right of Member States:

(a) to apply the relevant provisions of their tax law which distinguish between taxpayers who are not in the same situation with regard to their place of residence or with regard to the place where their capital is invested;

(b) to take all requisite measures to prevent infringements of national law and regulations, in particular in the field of taxation and the prudential supervision of financial institutions, or to lay down procedures for the declaration of capital movements for purposes of administrative or statistical information, or to take measures which are justified on grounds of public policy or public security.

2. The provisions of this Chapter shall be without prejudice to the applicability of restrictions on the right of establishment which are compatible with this Treaty.

3. The measures and procedures referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall not constitute a means of arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction on the free movement of capital and payments as defined in Article 56.

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The European Convention made only cosmetic amendments to Article 58 TEC in Article III-47 of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (OJ 18.7.2003 C 169/35).

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Article III-158 of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe replaced the word ‘steps’ of the draft Constitution with ‘measures’ as in the current Article 58 TEC, so only the added words in the phrase ‘provisions laid down by law or regulation’ in subparagraph 1(b) remained of the cosmetic changes proposed by the draft.

But the IGC 2004 made one substantial change by adding a fourth paragraph to Article III-158, reproduced below (OJ 16.12.2004 C 310/67):

Article III-158 Constitution

1. Article III-156 shall be without prejudice to the right of Member States:

(a) to apply the relevant provisions of their tax law which distinguish between taxpayers who are not in the same situation with regard to their place of residence or with regard to the place where their capital is invested;

(b) to take all requisite measures to prevent infringements of national provisions laid down by law or regulation, in particular in the field of taxation and the prudential supervision of financial institutions, or to lay down procedures for the declaration of capital movements for purposes of administrative or statistical information, or to take measures which are justified on grounds of public policy or public security.

2. This Section shall be without prejudice to the applicability of restrictions on the right of establishment which are compatible with the Constitution.

3. The measures and procedures referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall not constitute a means of arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction on the free movement of capital and payments as defined in Article III-156.

4. In the absence of a European law or framework law provided for in Article III-157(3), the Commission or, in the absence of a European decision of the Commission within three months from the request of the Member State concerned, the Council, may adopt a European decision stating that restrictive tax measures adopted by a Member State concerning one or more third countries are to be considered compatible with the Constitution insofar as they are justified by one of the objectives of the Union and compatible with the proper functioning of the internal market. The Council shall act unanimously on application by a Member State.

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We see that the fourth paragraph added by the Treaty of Lisbon to what becomes Article 65 TFEU is in essence the corresponding Article III-158(4) of the Constitutional Treaty. The changes in wording relate to general terminological differences between the two treaties.

This ‘parentage’ is mentioned in the German and Finnish ratification bills and in the consultation paper of the Swedish government.

Thus, the amendment fell under the general provision of the IGC 2007 Mandate regarding amendments to the EC Treaty (Council document 11218/07, page 7, point 18): The innovations agreed in the 2004 IGC will be inserted into the Treaty by way of specific modifications in the usual manner.


Ralf Grahn