VATMESS – EU harmonisation gone wrong for SaaS

Since 1 January 2015 online traders in the EU, selling items like “laser swords” in an app, have to apply the applicable value-added tax (VAT) rate to their purchases and submit the tax to the applicable tax authority of the responsible European member state. The new rules affect “laser swords”, document templates and SaaS but not traditional ecommerce trade of physical goods. Fortunately there is a “mini-one-stop-shop”, that is a single point of contact, subject to your registration, to declare and distribute the VAT. For your apps you have to engineer complicated solutions to determine the applicable member state of a net customer. The situation gets easier when your customer is a company with a VATIN, that is the European number of a VAT registered company. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

How Germany undermines data protection

The German delegation to the Council puts the axe against the data protection regulation. The trick is a special new pseudonyme data proposal. This shows a document from the Germans that was published by Statewatch. Under specific circumstances further processing which leads to revealing (re)-identification of the data subject should be allowed if the controller demonstrates compelling legitimate grounds which override the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject (Art.6 (5)). The controller shall consider all the determinants of risk and assess whether a threat to the data subject exists. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

The H word

The European Commission published a textual proposal for the TTIP talks that includes the H-Word. Previously the European Commission had argued that (legal) harmonisation was not among the objective of the agreement: “Given the efficiency of their respective systems, the intention is not to strive towards harmonisation, but to identify a number of specific issues where divergences will be addressed.” We mocked this on the FFII ACTA blog. In the Commission’s tabled text proposal it reads: Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Unified Patent Court a mistake of historic dimensions?

The EU wants to create a Unified Patent Court (UPC). I will discuss some aspects of the UPC and make two more general remarks on (adjudicative) system design. The UPC proposal has a twist; it tries to minimise the role of the EU Court of Justice (CJEU). This may lead to an expansionist interpretation of patent law. According to Josef Drexl, director of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, this could easily amount to a mistake of historic dimensions:

“The policy argument behind this is to concentrate patent law cases before highly specialized patent courts and to prevent, as far as possible, any general law court from controlling the specialized court. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Eva Kaili raises questions about access to TTIP documents in the age of the Lisbon Treaty

Eva Kaili (S&D) from Greece asks the European Commission (under rule 130):

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and potential areas of conflict with the Lisbon Treaty

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (hereinafter TTIP) is a comprehensive free trade and investment agreement, which is currently being negotiated — behind closed doors — between the European Union and the US. In particular, all TTIP negotiations are swathed in secrecy, since the Commission is imposing the most stringent restrictions on the more important documents. In response to great pressure from MEPs, the Commission has stated that Member States and selected MEPs — those who handle the relevant issues — may have some access to the EU negotiating documents, but only in designated reading (reading rooms), and the photocopying or photographing of documents will not be permitted. The Court of Justice has already issued two important decisions — on 26 June 2014 and 3 July 2014 — essentially criticising the lack of transparency and information in the negotiations. Under Article 218 of the EU Treaty (Treaty of Lisbon) and on the basis of the precautionary principle, will the Commission say:
(a) Is the procedure being adopted in this instance in accordance with Article 218 TEU? Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

EU Parliament EPP group in favour of ISDS

The European People’s Party (EPP), the biggest group in the European Parliament, is in favour of investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS). I will discuss their position and conclude it creates three risks. First, it risks subjecting the EU to a corrupt adjudicative system. Second, it risks undermining the EU court’s exclusive jurisdiction over the definitive interpretation of EU law. Third, it risks crashing upcoming EU trade agreements. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Seven things you should know about EU-Singapore ISDS

In October 2014 the European Commission published the draft text of the EU-Singapore trade agreement (EUSFTA) investment chapter. It contains investment protection rules for foreign investors and the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which gives foreign investors special rights in conflicts with governments. Seven things you should know about this investment chapter:

1. The agreement creates a lock-in. Unlike most investment agreements ratified by European countries, it is not a stand-alone investment treaty, from which parties can withdraw. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

EU liberals seem ready to sacrifice our democracy

Marietje Schaake, the European Parliament’s liberal group’s (ALDE) spokesperson on the trade agreement with the US (TTIP) published a blog on investor-state arbitration (ISDS). I will discuss her arguments below; to avoid cherry picking, I will quote her whole blog (for the links and images see her blog). I conclude that a majority of the European Parliament liberal group seems ready to sacrifice the separation of powers, and democracy, for no good reason. As things stand now, the liberals won’t fight for our democracy. Schaake:

“ISDS – what’s going on? Continue Reading →

Filed under:

FFII submission to Ombudsman consultation on openness in TTIP negotiations

Foundation for a Free information Infrastructure (FFII) submission to the European Ombudsman public consultation in relation to the transparency of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. The submission has a focus on the EU’s human rights obligations. The international human rights obligations (ICCPR and ICESCR) may be relevant for other countries as well, such as TPP countries. FFII submission: pdf, html
Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Who leaked about Juncker and Malmström fighting over ISDS?

Last week the Dutch newspaper NRC revealed a fight between Juncker and Malmström over ISDS. The article (paywall) sketched the context: uninformed activists gaining influence. The article suggested Juncker without good reason giving in. As Juncker does not gain anything with this leak about the fight, I assume proponents of ISDS leaked, and had the ear of the reporter, so they could sketch the context. The newspaper did not give civil society a rebuttal: very bad journalism, endangering our democracy. Continue Reading →

Filed under: