CFE Forum 2012 - Tax law in the light of judgments - the interaction of European law and the national courts


Brussels, Representation of the State Saxony-Anhalt to the European Union in Brussels, Boulevard Saint-Michel 80, 1040 Brussels

National courts play a crucial role in the application of EU law. Apart from the everyday application of EU law on a case, it is their task to contribute to a uniform interpretation by identifying unclear EU law questions to be referred to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling. For tax practitioners, it is essential to know how a national tax court will apply EU law and when a reference to the ECJ has to be made.

The European Court of Justice´s acte clair doctrine releases a national court from having to refer a case to the ECJ if there can be no reasonable doubts as to the validity and interpretation of EU law. This leaves a wide margin of appreciation to the national courts. The Forum took a look at how this margin is applied in practice in different EU Member States.

Complexity is added by the fact that principles of EU law are applied differently in tax and Internal Market matters: the ECJ has held that the obligation of the principal to withhold a 15% tax from the payment to servicers of construction work violates the Internal Market freedoms (case C-433/04, Commission vs. Belgium) while in the VAT Directive, a reverse charge may be imposed. The question arises whether a Directive may deviate from the TFEU Treaty as interpreted by the ECJ without violating the Treaty. The limits of such deviation need to be outlined more clearly.

Both subjects covered direct and indirect tax issues.

Presentations Panel 1:

Presentations Panel 2:

Follow this link to see the photos from the CFE Forum 2012