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Article

Access_open Mercosur: Limits of Regional Integration

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2019
Keywords Mercosur, European Union, regionalism, integration, international organisation
Authors Ricardo Caichiolo
AbstractAuthor's information

    This study is focused on the evaluation of successes and failures of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur). This analysis of Mercosur’s integration seeks to identify the reasons why the bloc has stagnated in an incomplete customs union condition, although it was originally created to achieve a common market status. To understand the evolution of Mercosur, the study offers some thoughts about the role of the European Union (EU) as a model for regional integration. Although an EU-style integration has served as a model, it does not necessarily set the standards by which integration can be measured as we analyse other integration efforts. However, the case of Mercosur is emblematic: during its initial years, Mercosur specifically received EU technical assistance to promote integration according to EU-style integration. Its main original goal was to become a common market, but so far, almost thirty years after its creation, it remains an imperfect customs union.
    The article demonstrates the extent to which almost thirty years of integration in South America could be considered a failure, which would be one more in a list of previous attempts of integration in Latin America, since the 1960s. Whether it is a failure or not, it is impossible to envisage EU-style economic and political integration in South America in the foreseeable future. So far, member states, including Brazil, which could supposedly become the engine of economic and political integration in South America, have remained sceptical about the possibility of integrating further politically and economically. As member states suffer political and economic turmoil, they have concentrated on domestic recovery before being able to dedicate sufficient time and energy to being at the forefront of integration.


Ricardo Caichiolo
Ricardo Caichiolo, PhD (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium) is legal and legislative adviser to the Brazilian Senate and professor and coordinator of the post graduate programs on Public Policy, Government Relations and Law at Ibmec (Instituto Brasileiro de Mercado de Capitais, Brazil).
Article

Access_open Levying VAT in the EU Customs Union: Towards a Single Indirect Tax Area? The Ordeal of Indirect Tax Harmonisation

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2019
Keywords single indirect tax area, VAT action plan, quick fixes, e-commerce package, definitive VAT system
Authors Ben Terra
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution deals with the latest proposals regarding levying VAT in the European Union (EU) Customs Union. The present system, which has been in place since 1993 and was supposed to be transitional, splits every cross-border transaction into an exempted cross-border supply and a taxable cross-border acquisition. It is like a customs system, but lacks equivalent controls and is therefore the root of cross-border fraud. After many years of unsuccessful attempts, the Commission abandoned the objective of implementing definitive VAT arrangements based on the principle of taxing all cross-border supplies of goods in the Member State of their origin, under the same conditions that apply to domestic trade including VAT rates. The European Parliament and the Council agreed that the definitive system should be based on the principle of taxation in the Member State of the destination of the goods. After a brief discussion of the VAT Action Plan of 2016 (Section 1), the e-commerce package in the form of Directive (EU) 2017/2455 is dealt with (Section 2), followed by the proposal to harmonise and simplify certain rules in the VAT system and introduce the definitive system, only partially adopted (Section 3). Section 4 deals with the proposal to introduce detailed measures of the definitive VAT system. The proposed harmonisation and simplification of certain rules were meant to become applicable on 1 January 2019, but will become only partially applicable on 2020. It is proposed to make the detailed measures of the definitive VAT system applicable in 2022. It remains to be seen whether the Member States are willing to accept the definitive VAT system at all; hence the subtitle ‘the ordeal of indirect tax harmonisation’.


Ben Terra
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ben Terra was a professor of tax law at the universities of Amsterdam and Lund and visiting professor at the Universidade Católica in Lisbon.
Article

Access_open The Foundations of the Internal Market: Free Trade Area and Customs Union under Articles 28-31 TFEU

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2019
Keywords free trade area, EU Customs Union, internal market, European Union, Brexit
Authors Stefan Enchelmaier
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution places the provisions of the Treaty creating a free trade area and customs union between the Member States (Articles 28-31 TFEU) in their wider context. It then focuses on the interpretation of Article 30 in the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Throughout, it casts sideways glances at corresponding provisions of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). As it turns out, the abolition of customs duties and charges having equivalent effect, and the establishment of a customs union between Member States, were important milestones in the development of European unification. They became overshadowed later by more spectacular developments in the case law on the free movement of goods, persons and services. As a consequence, the importance of the customs provisions is widely underrated. Brexit concentrates the minds in this respect, as an important economy is about to rearrange and even recreate the basic building blocks of its international trading relations.


Stefan Enchelmaier
Stefan Enchelmaier, Dr iur (Bonn) habil (Munich) LLM (Edinb) MA (Oxon) is Professor of European and Comparative Law at Lincoln College, University of Oxford.
Article

Access_open The Dutch International Responsible Business Conduct Agreements

Effective Initiatives?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords IRBC Agreements, effectiveness, OECD due diligence, access to remedy
Authors Martijn Scheltema
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution analyses the effectiveness of the Dutch International Responsible Business Conduct (IRBC) agreements and suggests some avenues for improvement. Several challenges in connection with effectiveness have been identified in evaluations of the IRBC agreements, and these are used as a starting point for the analysis. The focus is on three themes: (i) uptake, leverage and collaboration; (ii) implementation of OECD due diligence including monitoring and (iii) access to remedy. This contribution shows that low uptake may not be a sign of ineffectiveness per se, although in terms of leverage a sufficient number of participants or collaboration between agreements seems important. In connection with due diligence, it is recommended to align the implementation of OECD due diligence. Furthermore, an effective monitoring mechanism by a secretariat, as is currently implemented in the Textile agreement only, is most likely to bring about material changes in business behaviour. Other types of supervision seem less effective. Access to remedy poses a challenge in all IRBC agreements. It is recommended that the expectations the agreements have on access to remedy be clarified, also in connection with the role of signatories to the agreements in cases where they are directly linked to human rights abuse. Furthermore, it is recommended that a dispute resolution mechanism be introduced that enables complaints for external stakeholders against business signatories, comparable to that of the Textile agreement. However, rather than implementing separate mechanisms in all agreements, an overarching mechanism for all agreements should be introduced.


Martijn Scheltema
Martijn Scheltema is Professor of Private law at Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Article

Access_open Consumer Social Responsibility in Dutch Law

A Case Study on the Role of Consumers in Energy Transition

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords consumer, energy transition, social responsibility, Dutch law, EU law
Authors Katalin Cseres
AbstractAuthor's information

    As our economies continue to focus on growth, competition and maximisation of consumer choice, the global increase in consumption takes vast environmental and social costs and cause irreversible harm to our climate and environment. The urgency of reducing human footprint and to diminish one of the root causes of a declining climate and environment is irrefutable. In the shift that globally has to take place, a decentralised energy system relying on more distributed generation, energy storage and a more active involvement of consumers form a crucial component of renewable energy solutions. The move from a highly centralised to a more decentralised power system involves an increasing amount of small-scale (intermittent) generation from renewable energy which is located closer to the point of final consumption. In order to steer consumption towards sustainability national governments and supranational organisations have adopted policies and corresponding legislation that address individual consumers as rational and active choice-makers who make socially responsible choices when they receive the ‘right’ amount of information. By relying on insights from modern consumption theories with contributions from sociology, this article questions the effectiveness and legitimacy of these ‘consumer-centred’ policies and laws. First, the article argues that the single focus on individual consumer behaviour as a rational and utility maximising market actor fails to take into account the complexity of consumption, which is fundamentally influenced by social norms and its broader institutional setting. Although consumers are willing to consume more sustainably, they are often ‘locked in by circumstances’ and unable to engage in more sustainable consumption practices even if they want to. Second, by relying on evidence from sociological studies the article argues that individual consumers are not the most salient actors in support of sustainable consumption. Even though the urgency of the energy transition and the critical role consumers play in (un)sustainable energy consumption is acknowledged in both the EU and its Member States, their laws and policies remain grounded on goals of economic growth with competitive economies, the sovereignty of consumer choice and wealth maximisation, instead of aiming at slower economic growth or even degrowth, reducing overall resource use and consumption levels and introducing radically different ways of consumption.
    Third, the role of law is underlined as a social institution both as a constraint on the autonomous acts of consumption, dictating the normative frameworks within which the role of consumer is defined, and as a facilitator which consumers might also employ, in order to determine for themselves particular normative parameters within which consumption can occur.
    The Netherlands, which serves as a case study in this article, has reached important milestones in its energy transition policy since 2013. Still, it remains strongly focused on economic rationality and market competitiveness. Even though various models of consumer participation exist and local consumer energy initiatives are flourishing and are recognised as key actors in the energy transition, they remain embedded in institutional, structural and behavioural settings where consumers still face challenging sociocultural barriers to sustainable practices.
    In light of these legal, political and social complexity of energy transition, the article offers a critical analysis of the current Dutch law in its broader legal context of EU law in order to answer the question what the role of (energy) law is in steering consumers towards sustainable energy consumption.


Katalin Cseres
Katalin Cseres is Associate Professor of Law, Amsterdam Centre for European Law & Governance (ACELG), University of Amsterdam.
Article

Access_open The Singapore International Commercial Court: The Future of Litigation?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2019
Keywords international commercial court, Singapore, dispute resolution, litigation
Authors Man Yip
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Singapore International Commercial Court (‘SICC’) was launched on 5 January 2015, at the Opening of Legal Year held at the Singapore Supreme Court. What prompted the creation of SICC? How is the SICC model of litigation different from litigation in the Singapore High Court? What is the SICC’s track record and what does it tell us about its future? This article seeks to answer these questions at greater depth than existing literature. Importantly, it examines these questions from the angle of reimagining access of justice for litigants embroiled in international commercial disputes. It argues that the SICC’s enduring contribution to improving access to justice is that it helps to change our frame of reference for international commercial litigation. Hybridisation, internationalisation, and party autonomy, the underpinning values of the SICC, are likely to be the values of the future of dispute resolution. International commercial dispute resolution frameworks – typically litigation frameworks – that unduly emphasise national boundaries and formalities need not and should not be the norm. Crucially, the SICC co-opts a refreshing public-private perspective to the resolution of international commercial disputes. It illuminates on the public interest element of the resolution of such disputes which have for some time fallen into the domain of international commercial arbitration; at the same time, it introduces greater scope for self-determination in international commercial litigation.


Man Yip
BCL (Oxon).
Article

Access_open The Emergence of International Commercial Courts in India: A Narrative for Ease of Doing Business?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2019
Keywords Commercial contracts, Enforcement, Jurisdiction, Specialized courts, India
Authors Sai Ramani Garimella and M.Z. Ashraful
AbstractAuthor's information

    The liberal globalised order has brought increased focus on the regulation of international commerce, and especially dispute resolution. Enforcement of contracts has been a concern largely owing to the insufficiencies of the legal systems, especially relating to the institutional structure, and it holds true for India as well. The commercial courts mechanism – international and domestic – with innovative features aimed at providing expedited justice is witnessing much traction. India, similar to many other jurisdictions, legislated in favour of specialized dispute resolution mechanisms for commercial disputes that could help improve the procedures for enforcement of contracts. This research attempts to critique the comparable strengths and the reform spaces within the Indian legislation on commercial courts. It parses the status of commercial dispute resolution in India especially in the context of cross-border contracts and critiques India’s attempt to have specialised courts to address commercial dispute resolution.


Sai Ramani Garimella
Sai Ramani Garimella, PhD, is assistant professor of the faculty of legal studies at the South Asian University in New Delhi.

M.Z. Ashraful
M.Z. Ashraful is the research student at South Asian University in New Delhi.
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