Recent developments in the EU, including Choice of Court Agreements Convention; tax information exchange; IP standardisation

Choice of Court Convention ratified

On 10 October, the Council of EU Justice Ministers approved a decision ratifying the 2005 Choice of Court Agreements Convention. It is hoped that this will help to create a legal environment within the EU amenable to trade and investment.

For EU businesses involved in international trade, it will ensure the effectiveness of choice of court agreements (“forum selection clauses”), and ensure that any judgment from that court will be recognised and enforced in countries that have ratified the Convention, which include the USA, Canada, Japan, China and Russia.

The consent of the European Parliament will be requested before the Convention can be applied. Once this is given, the decision will be adopted by the Council and enter into force in the EU.

Tax information exchange agreed

Following protracted negotiations, EU finance ministers have reached an agreement on new tax co-operation rules that will extend automatic exchange of information between member state tax authorities in relation to all types of income. The new rules form part of global and European efforts to combat tax evasion.

The agreement brings interest, dividends and other income, as well as account balances and sales proceeds from financial assets, within the scope of automatic exchange of information under the Administrative Co-operation Directive (2011/16/EU).

Some member states have been hesitant to commit to full automatic exchange, particularly in light of other European but non-EU jurisdictions not being committed to the same level of exchange but, with Switzerland having signed up to the automatic exchange, and a number of other countries doing so later in the year, a major hurdle has been removed. The Commission has also committed to concluding negotiations on new tax agreements with Andorra, Monaco, Lichtenstein and San Marino, which are likely to be vastly more ambitious now than was hoped for initially.

The text will be adopted at a forthcoming Council meeting without further discussion.

IP standardisation out for views

The Commission is currently consulting on standardisation and intellectual property rights, such as patents. The information gathered from responses will be used to assess how the existing EU framework governing standardisation involving patents is functioning, and whether any changes need to be made to the current rules to ensure that standardisation remains efficient and adapted to the fast-changing economic and technological environment. Responses should be structured with reference to the modules of the questionnaire, which can be accessed via the shortcut link

The closing date is 31 January 2015.

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