New perspectives on sale of consumer goods – maximum harmonization and high protection of consumers as a condition for the further development of cross-border trade in single market

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 by Maria João Pestana de Vasconcelos, Professor at the School of Law, UMINHO 

As a part of Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe published in May 2015, the Commission adopted, on 9 December 2015, two proposals of Directives: one for a Directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the online and other distance sales of goods (“Sales of Goods proposal” or “Sales of Goods Directive”); another for a Directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content and digital services (proposal for a “Directive on Digital Content” or “Digital Content Directive”).

These proposals are the basis of a future reform on consumer sales contracts based on the principle of maximum harmonisation while providing for a high level of consumer protection.

It is already clear that the minimum harmonization approach, adopted by the Consumer Sales Directive (1999/44/EC) [i] has proved not to be appropriate to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market. Member States allowed go beyond the minimum rules, and to impose a high level of consumer protection, have acted on different elements and to different extents. As a result, national provisions transposing the Consumer Sales Directive (99/44/EC) significantly diverge today on essential elements, such as the absence or existence of a hierarchy of remedies. These disparities between the national laws of the Member States constitute one of the major obstacles to the development of the cross-border trade in Single Market given that they may adversely affect business (in particularly small and medium enterprises) and consumers[ii].
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Indirect taxation on 3D printing – A new challenge for the European Union

IFA 2015

 by Andreia Barbosa, PhD candidate at UMINHO

3D printing (or rapid prototyping) is a form of additive manufacturing technology through which a three-dimensional model (height, depth and width, maxime, embossed) is created by successive layers of material. Think of the production of a computer mouse. The traditional production of this property implies that, in the first instance, the respective components are separately produced and subsequently assembled, giving rise to the mouse. Differently, through 3D printing the mouse for the computer will be printed as a whole, layer by layer – making the assembly process obsolete – and with the possibility of the product being customized, according to the model that has been developed.

That said, it is easy to conclude that in the case of models for 3D printing there is no corporeality to which we refer, so that, then, there will be no merchandise, which will only assume this quality when it is actually printed. That is to say, the 3D printing model, which is the subject of an international transaction, will not be regarded as a ‘good’ for customs purposes. Consequently, as customs duties constitute charges imposed on goods on the ground that they have crossed a customs line, no customs duties may be levied by the transmission of the model to be printed (which will be carried out electronically).
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The impact of Brexit on international trade taxation

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 by Andreia Barbosa, PhD student at the Law School of UMinho

On 23 June 2016, the British people decided to leave the European Union, re-launching the idea that belonging to the European Union, in the light of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, does not seem to be an obligation, but a choice. States have the (unilateral) right to leave.

The actual effects of Brexit are not yet fully known. In fact, its exact consequences will only be effectively known when the negotiations are over – which will only happen, predictably, in early 2019.

There are, however, more likely scenarios than others and, consequently, more likely effects than others. Among the most immediate scenarios and effects, are those relating to the commercial transactions between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Because, of course, one of the most important ideals of the European Union is the free movement of goods, based on the existence of a single market without technical and physical frontiers in the free movement of persons, services, goods and capital­. So, the question arises as to the terms under which trade in goods between the United Kingdom and the Member States of the European Union will take place.
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Summary of Cassis Dijon – C-120/78

by José Ricardo Sousa, student of the Master's degree in EU Law of UMinho

Keywords: Common Market; Spirit Drinks, Importation, Minimum Content, Cassis Dijon

Court: CJEU| Date:  Feb. 20th 1979 | Case: C-120/78 | Applicants: Rewe-Zentral AG vs Bundesmonopolverwaltung Für Branntwein

Summary:  Rene-Zentral is a central cooperative undertaking that imports good from other Member States. On 14th September 1976 the company requested authorization for Bundesmonopolverwaltung (Federal Monopoly Administration for Spirits) to import a spirit drink called “Cassis Dijon”. Administration told to Rene-Zentral that there was no need to ask for authorization to import goods, however “Cassis Dijon” couldn’t be sold in Germany because the spirit drink didn’t fulfil the requirements of alcohol (wine-spirits must be around 32% and the mentioned mark had around 20%). Rene claimed that the German provision represented a restriction for the free movement of goods and contrary to article 30 and 37 of the EEC Treaty. Rene brought an action against the decision and the Court suspended the action and referred the following questions to CJEU:

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Summary of Simmenthal – 106/77

by José Ricardo Sousa, student of the Master's degree in EU Law of UMinho

Keywords: EU law application; national law; legal orders; uniformity; free movement of goods.

Court: CJEU | DateMarch 9th 1978 | Case: 106/77 | Applicants: Simmenthal S.p.A. vs Amministrazione Delle Finanze pello Stato

Summary: On 26th July 1973 Simmenthal imported beef for human consumption from France and they had to pay its respective fee importation for public health inspection. About this matter, it was Simmenthal’s opinion that this inspection clearly violated the fundamental principles of Common Market (in this case, free movement of goods). So, Simental brought an action to court with the intention to be repaid for the mentioned illegal (for their point of view) fee. The Court, Pretore di Suza accepted Simmenthal arguments and condemned Administrazione delle Finanze pello Stato (therefore, administrazione) to repay the company. Not satisfied with the decision, Admnistrazione appealed against the order to repay arguing with some rulings by the constitutional jurisdiction regarding the conflict between Community law and National law. The Court suspended and referred a question to CJEU:

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