Wednesday, 4 June 2008

EU TFEU: Tax provisions

The EU Treaty of Lisbon leaves the tax provisions (fiscal provisions) of the current Treaty establishing the European Community essentially unchanged.

Article 110 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union prohibits tax discrimination within the internal market and imposes a requirement of neutrality on the member states’ governments.


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Article 110 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) is found in the consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, OJ 9.5.2008 C 115/93:

Part Three ‘Union policies and internal actions’

Title VII Common rules on competition, taxation and approximation of laws

Chapter 2 Tax provisions


Article 110 TFEU
(ex Article 90 TEC)

No Member State shall impose, directly or indirectly, on the products of other Member States any internal taxation of any kind in excess of that imposed directly or indirectly on similar domestic products.

Furthermore, no Member State shall impose on the products of other Member States any internal taxation of such a nature as to afford indirect protection to other products.

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In Article 2, point 78 of the Treaty of Lisbon (ToL) the IGC 2007 amended Article 88 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) and in point 79 it dealt with Article 93 TEC. This means that no specific amendments were made to Article 90 TEC. Cf. OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/69.

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The TFEU table of equivalences tells us that Article 90 TEC first became Article 90 TFEU (ToL) in the original Treaty of Lisbon, but later renumbered Article 110 TFEU in the consolidated version (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/211).

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The current Article 90 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) is found under Title VI ‘Common rules on competition, taxation and approximation of laws’, Chapter 2 ‘Tax provisions’, in the latest consolidated version of the treaties in force (OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/78).

No specific amendment and no horizontal amendment; the wording of Article 90 TEC is exactly the same as Article 110 TFEU.

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We have now seen that 90 TEC in force and 110 TFUE are exactly the same.

Still, for the sake of systematic comparison, we look at the arcana of the Article during the intervening treaty reform stages.

First, we turn to the European Convention, the closest thing to a constituent assembly EU citizens have had. The Article in question is located in Part III ‘The policies and functioning of the Union’, Title III ‘Internal policies and action’, Chapter I ‘Internal market’, Section 6 ‘Fiscal provisions’.

Article III-59 of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was exactly the same as Article 90 TEC (OJ 18.7.2003 C 169/37).

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In the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe the tax provisions were located in Part III ‘The policies and functioning of the Union’, Title III ‘Internal policies and action’, Chapter I ‘Internal market’, Section 6 ‘Fiscal provisions’.

Even if the first paragraph of Article III-170 was the same as Article III-59 proposed by the European Convention, the IGC 2004 created an Article with three paragraphs by housing Articles III-60 and III-61 of the draft Constitution under the same roof (OJ 16.12.2004 C 310/73. Cf. OJ 18.7.2003 C 169/37–38):

Article III-170 Constitution

1. No Member State shall impose, directly or indirectly, on the products of other Member States any internal taxation of any kind in excess of that imposed directly or indirectly on similar domestic products.

Furthermore, no Member State shall impose on the products of other Member States any internal taxation of such a nature as to afford indirect protection to other products.

2. Where products are exported by a Member State to the territory of another Member State, any repayment of internal taxation shall not exceed the internal taxation imposed on them whether directly or indirectly.

3. In the case of charges other than turnover taxes, excise duties and other forms of indirect taxation, remissions and repayments in respect of exports to other Member States may not be granted and countervailing charges in respect of imports from Member States may not be imposed unless the provisions contemplated have been previously approved for a limited period by a European decision adopted by the Council on a proposal from the Commission.

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What has anyone been able to say about the unchanged Article 110 TFEU?


United Kingdom

Professor Steve Peers covered the Treaty of Lisbon in a number of Statewatch Analyses. ‘EU Reform Treaty Analysis no. 3.3: Revised text of Part Three, Titles I to VI of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC): Internal Market and competition’ (Version 2, 23 October 2007) includes the current Title VI Common rules on competition, taxation and approximation of laws.

Peers indicated the changing numbering of Article 90 TEC and TFEU (ToL), to be renumbered Article 110 TFEU in the consolidated version, without comment (page 28).

The analysis 3.3 and other useful Statewatch analyses are available through:

http://www.statewatch.org/euconstitution.htm


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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) offers a convenient source of brief annotations on Lisbon Treaty amendments in ‘A comparative table of the current EC and EU treaties as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon’ (Command Paper 7311, published 21 January 2008). It offers the following comment on Article 110 TFEU, Article 90 TFEU (ToL) in the original Lisbon Treaty (page 12):

“Unchanged from Article 90 TEC.”

The FCO comparative table is available at:

http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm73/7311/7311.asp

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The UK House of Commons Library Research Paper 07/86 ‘The Treaty of Lisbon: amendments to the Treaty establishing the European Community’ (published 6 December 2007) discussed taxation on page 60 (although the heading ‘2. Taxation’ continued with (tax) harmonisation from page 60 to 61).

Because this blog post is an introduction to the tax provisions, we reproduce the comments on Articles 90 to 93 TFEU (ToL), later renumbered Articles 110 to 113 TFEU in the consolidated version:

“Articles 90–93 (Constitution Articles III-170 – III-171) concern taxation. They incorporate the existing tax provisions set out in Articles 90 to 93 TEC. There is a considerable body of European law concerning the harmonisation across Member States of indirect taxes: that is, VAT and excise duties on alcoholic drinks, hydrocarbon oils and tobacco products. At present the Treaty base for this legislation is Article 93 TEC, which states:

The Council shall, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee, adopt provisions for the harmonisation of legislation concerning turnover taxes, excise duties and other forms of indirect taxation to the extent that such harmonisation is necessary to ensure the establishment and the functioning of the internal market within the time limit laid down in Article 14. (122)

The new Article 93 (Constitution Article III-171) has one substantive change. Legislation for harmonising indirect taxes may be adopted (emphasis added) “provided that such harmonisation is necessary for the establishment or the functioning of the internal market and to avoid distortion of competition.” It remains the case that any such legislation must be agreed by the Council acting unanimously.”

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Footnote 122 stated: Article 14 refers to the establishment of the single European market on 1 January 1993.
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The Library Research Paper 07/86 is available at:

http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/rp2007/rp07-086.pdf

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The House of Lords European Union Committee report ‘The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment, Volume I: Report’ (HL Paper 62-I, published 13 March 2008) is a valuable resource on the Treaty of Lisbon, but I found no reference to Article 110 TFEU (Article 90 TEC and ToL).

The report is accessible at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldselect/ldeucom/62/62.pdf

In case anyone wants to dig deeper, taxes, unanimity and harmonisation are discussed ‘passim’ in Volume II of the report ‘Evidence’.


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Sweden

The consultation paper ’Lissabonfördraget’ is still valuable as a description of the Lisbon Treaty amendments, and it is available at:

http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c6/09/49/81/107aa077.pdf

The Swedish government’s draft ratification bill ‘Lagrådsremiss – Lissabonfördraget’, was published 29 May 2008 and sent to the Council on Legislation (Lagrådet) for an expert opinion. The draft deals with the EU’s internal policy areas in Chapter 23 ‘Unionens interna åtgärder’, and section 23.1 presents the internal market (Inre marknaden), on pages 175 to 181.

Tax provisions are dealt with on page 179 in a section called ‘Bestämmelser om skatter’. The government of Sweden remarks on the essentially unchanged nature of the tax provisions in general and it then explains the clarification of Article 93 TFEU (ToL):

”Bestämmelser om skatter

Bestämmelserna om skatter är i princip oförändrade. I artikel 93 i EUF-fördraget om harmonisering av lagstiftningen om omsättningsskatter, punktskatter och andra indirekta skatter eller avgifter på den inre marknaden görs ett förtydligande. Som nödvändig förutsättning för att harmonisera lagstiftning anges som tillägg “att undvika snedvridning av konkurrensen”. Rådet ska, i likhet med nu gällande EG-fördrag, fatta beslut med enhällighet i skattefrågor efter att ha hört Europaparlamentet. (Se artikel 2.79 i Lissabonfördraget.)”

The draft bill ‘Lagrådsremiss – Lissabonfördraget’ can be downloaded through:

http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/5676/a/106277

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Finland

The Finnish ratification bill, ‘Hallituksen esitys Eduskunnalle Euroopan unionista tehdyn sopimuksen ja Euroopan yhteisön perustamissopimuksen muuttamisesta tehdyn Lissabonin sopimuksen hyväksymisestä ja laiksi sen lainsäädännön alaan kuuluvien määräysten voimaansaattamisesta’ (HE 23/2008 vp), offers an introductury comment on taxes and charges (Veroja ja maksuja koskevat määräykset) and a brief statement on the unchanged nature of Article 90 TFEU (ToL), renumbered Article 110 TFEU (page 208):

”Määräykset koskevat veroihin ja maksuihin sovellettavia pääperiaatteita sekä neuvoston toimivaltaa niiden osalta ja ne vastaavat määräysten sanamuodon teknisiä tarkistuksia lukuun ottamatta pääasiallisesti nykyisen EYsopimuksen kolmannen osan VI osaston 2 luvun määräyksiä samoin kuin perustuslakisopimuksen III-171 ja III-172 artiklan määräyksiä.

90 artiklaa (uusi 110 artikla), joka kieltää jäsenvaltioita määräämästä muiden jäsenvaltioiden tuotteille korkeampia välillisiä tai välittömiä sisäisiä maksuja kuin kotimaisille tuotteille, ei muuteta.”

The Finnish ratification bill is available at:

http://www.finlex.fi/fi/esitykset/he/2008/20080023.pdf


The Swedish language version of the ratification bill ‘Regeringens proposition till Riksdagen med förslag om godkännande av Lissabonfördraget om ändring av fördraget om Europeiska unionen och fördraget om upprättandet av Europeiska gemenskapen och till lag om sättande i kraft av de bestämmelser i fördraget som hör till området för lagstiftningen’ (RP 23/2008 rd), presents the same introductory remark on fiscal provisions under ’Bestämmelser om skatter och avgifter’ and the comment on the unchanged nature of Article 90 TFEU (ToL), the future Article 110 TFEU, on page 211:

”Bestämmelserna gäller de huvudprinciper som ska tillämpas på skatter och avgifter samt rådets befogenheter i fråga om dem och de motsvarar de tekniska anpassningarna av bestämmelsernas ordalydelse med undantag i huvudsak för bestämmelserna i avdelning VI kapitel 2 i det nuvarande EG-fördragets tredje del liksom även bestämmelserna i artiklarna III-171 och III-172 i det konstitutionella fördraget.

Artikel 90 (blivande artikel 110), som förbjuder medlemsstaterna att direkt eller indirekt på varor från andra medlemsstater lägga interna skatter eller avgifter som är högre än de skatter eller avgifter som direkt eller indirekt läggs på liknande inhemska varor, ändras inte.”

The ratification bill in Swedish can be accessed at:

http://www.finlex.fi/sv/esitykset/he/2008/20080023.pdf



Ralf Grahn