Yearbook of European Law - Vol. 10

By Francis Geoffrey Jacobs | Go to book overview

The Internal Market and the Elimination of Fiscal Frontiers*
A. J. EASSON
I. Taxation and the Internal Market
The Internal Market is defined as '. . . an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty.'1 Precisely what is intended by 'frontiers' is not clear; the Commission's White Paper speaks of the abolition of barriers of all kinds2 and envisages the tasks necessary to achieve a unified market as falling under three headings:
i. the removal of physical barriers
ii. the removal of technical barriers, and
iii. the removal of fiscal barriers.3

From this one might infer that 'frontiers' include not only physical obstacles, such as border posts and barriers across roads, but also those other invisible obstacles that impede free movement within the Community. Alternatively, if one gives to the word 'frontiers' a more restricted meaning, then the creation of the internal market is not confined to the removal of physical barriers, for the aim is the achievement of an area without those barriers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services, and capital may move freely. That is to say, the task is twofold: to remove physical barriers within the market and to eliminate other obstacles to free movement.

This duality is important because fiscal barriers may take either a physical or an invisible form. As the White Paper explains, one of the main reasons for the persistence of physical barriers, notwithstanding the abolition of customs duties, is that customs posts have continued to be a convenient point at which to check compliance with national indirect taxation rules.4 It

____________________
*
© A. J. Easson, 1990, Professor of Law, Queen's University, Canada; Visiting Professor, University of Sydney, Australia.

The writer wishes to express his thanks to the many officials of the Commission and Council who kindly gave so much of their time. A special debt of gratitude is owed to Professor Ben Terra and Ms Julie Kaj us, of Amsterdam, for sharing their views, explaining a number of difficult technical points, and for so generously helping to overcome the problem of distance by supplying documentation. The opinions, and errors, remain solely the responsibility of the writer.

1
EEC Treaty, Art 8A, as inserted by the Single European Act, Art 13.
2
White Paper from the Commission to the Council, "'Completing the Internal Market'", 14 June 1985: Doc COM (85) 310 final, para 1.
3
Ibid, para 10.
4
Ibid, para 26.

-147-

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