On 16 February 2019, the German Federal Cartel Office made legal history by finding Facebook guilty of abusing a position of dominance through excessive data collection. It is the first time that a European competition agency has found an undertaking guilty of anticompetitive conduct because it violated consumers’ constitutional right to privacy rather than caused economic harm in the form of excessive prices. Only a few months later, the Düsseldorf Court of Appeal condemned the decision as fundamentally flawed in law and fact. The case triggered a remarkable inter-institutional dispute, leading the German government to intervene and attempt to correct the course set by the Düsseldorf court by means of legislative amendment. This paper concludes that the Federal Cartel Office’s decision is not as flawed as the court order suggests, and that it should be welcomed as an opportunity for policy-makers to reconsider and clarify the concept of consumer harm in the age of Big Tech platforms.
This paper reflects on the concept of ‘Union membership’ and on the status of ‘Member State’ of the European Union. It concentrates on what can be defined as ‘EU membership law’, i.e. on the legal framework of membership contained in the Union treaties. The paper first analyzes how the meaning and consequences of membership have evolved over time: broadly speaking, the scope of membership requirements has greatly expanded, even well beyond the legislative competences of the Union. It then discusses the current Treaty framework, identifying and analyzing the key provisions on membership status, procedures (accession and enlargement), and obligations. In the final part, it explores a set on current challenges that are shaping the concept on membership, from Brexit to the constitutional crises of Hungary and Poland, and reflects on whether there is a need to identify a ‘core’ or essence of membership that should not be diluted regardless of the directions the EU will take.
The utopia EU – perfect integrated market indirectly implies precise tax systems harmonization. The European Commission proposal for the common corporate consolidate tax base CC(C)TB has more ambitious goals than those stated in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent BEPS (July 2018). The CC(C)TB directive proposes redistribution of the consolidated profits for the multinational companies based on calculation formula, depending on the volume of sales, the number of employees and the capital invested. The proposal determined intense discussions, because some of the member states will lose tax revenue when part of taxable profits is allocated to other states.
The paper analyses the vulnerabilities of this major change in international corporate taxation if it is applied regionally/locally, and it argues in favor of the upper global level of coordinating fiscal policies.