The University Act provides for a total of 90 ECTS for the LL.M. program. The program is divided into eight blocks of lectures and comprises the following subjects:
Tax law of the EU
ECJ Case Law
Due to the unanimity requirement in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the harmonization of the national rules on direct taxation is still in an undeveloped state. Nevertheless, the fundamental freedoms form a framework for national tax legislation with regard to intra-Union situations. The role of the European Court of Justice is not to replace the legislator but to provide an interpretation of the Treaty rules which, on the one hand, takes into account the particularities of national taxation and, on the other, ensures the effectiveness of the provisions of EU law. After an introduction to the structure and functioning of the Court, as well as an overview of the various ways in which the fundamental freedoms impact on national legislators’ choices in matters of taxation, the course focuses on the presentation and analysis of the recent case law (both judgments and Opinions of Advocates General) in the field of direct taxation. The aim is to explain the reasoning of the Court as well as to identify common lines in its decisions. In as far as the Court has already dealt with specific features of international taxation (e.g. CFC regulations, bilateral tax treaties), the course supplements other parts of the LLM program.
EU and Indirect Taxation
Harmonization of indirect taxes within the EU has already made significant progress. The legal framework of harmonization plays a pivotal part in this course, which aims to give students an overview of the status quo in VAT harmonization. Emphasis is placed on the basic principles of the common VAT system according to the VAT Directive (as amended) and the Internal Market concept. This course also serves the purpose of giving an overview of the judgments of the Court of Justice of the EU on VAT issues and illustrates the status quo of tax harmonization in the area of the indirect taxation of consumption.
EU and Third Countries
European tax law is no longer just a matter for the internal market, but also affects relations with third countries. Starting from a comparison between the broad differences in two scenarios, this teaching module will categorize third countries as a function of their type of relations with the European Union and address them in the light of relevant case law (European Court of Justice and those of national courts, including third countries), the applicable treaties (e.g. Economic and Partnership Agreements, Savings Agreements, bi- and multilateral tax conventions) and domestic tax rules. It will also address the recent development connected with the implementation of the BEPS project and affecting the relations of the European Union with third countries. The focus of this course will be mainly on direct Taxation.
EU State Aid Rules and Taxation
Although included in the European Treaties from the very beginning, the European State aid prohibition of Article 107 TFEU was rarely applied to cases in the field of taxation until the late 1980s. This restraint, however, ceased with the adoption of a Code of Conduct on Business Taxation by the EC Council, which encouraged the Commission to "commit itself to the strict application of the aid rules", and the subsequent adoption of guidelines on the application of the State aid rules to measures relating to direct business taxation by the EC Commission in 1998. Since then, numerous tax cases involving State aid issues have been brought before the EC Commission as well as before national courts and the European Court of Justice. This course will give an overview of both substantive and procedural European State aid law and discuss the possible consequences for domestic as well as international tax law issues, including the application of double tax treaties.
Principles of European Tax Law
A fundamental aspect of the European Union is the single market, an economic space within which goods, services, people (now, in their capacity as citizens of the Union and not merely as economic agents) and capital can move freely. Tax barriers constitute a formidable obstacle to the ability of people to do business or simply carry on their lives across borders. The lecture will discuss the various instruments of primary and secondary law which serve to break down those barriers, the way in which they have been interpreted by the ECJ, and their effect on the realization of the single market, with particular emphasis on the Treaty freedoms.
Tax Policies in the EU
This course is held in Brussels and presents future perspectives on European tax policy. Participants are given an insight into EU tax policy and its practical implications for the decision-making process through visits to the European Commission and other institutions in the tax field, e.g. the Member States’ permanent representatives. Leading officials of the Commission and Member States will present and discuss their views on tax policies in the EU.
The EU: Legal and Institutional Framework
Both European Union legislation and the case law of the European Court of Justice have an ever-increasing impact on tax law. To understand the mechanisms underlying this impact, knowledge of EU institutions and the sources of EU law is indispensable. These topics are therefore explored in detail in this course. The course places major emphasis on working with decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union. On this basis, concepts of importance to tax law such as the direct effect and supremacy of EU law, Member State liability, fundamental rights, and issues of judicial protection are discussed.
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