Basically, the legislation of the European Union implies the free movement of goods between all member states. Nonetheless, the idea of really free movement of goods between the states without any restrictions and barriers is rather an ideal than the real fact. However, it is necessary to emphasize that at the present moment the relations between member states have become much more cooperative and the development of the policy of the free movement of goods has made a great progress and, in this respect, it is worthy of mention the development of European legislation which creates a legal basis for close cooperation of member states and really free movement of goods within the EU. In such a situation, it is one of the major tasks of the European Commission to carefully observe and survey the fulfillment of legislative acts and norms accepted by member states. As a result, it is necessary to analyze and carefully assess the measures undertaken by the government of the member state A in terms of its child protection policy since they affect the interests of the members state B and need to be properly qualified in regard to European Union law on the free movement of goods.
At the beginning, it is necessary to briefly dwell upon the basic principles of the European Union legislation concerning the free movement of goods in order to objectively assess the actions of the member state A. First of all, it should be pointed out that the policy of the European Union concerning the free movement of goods is based on the idea of the removal of all internal trade barriers, including physical, technical and fiscal barriers, which create discriminatory restrictions between EU states (Howells 1996). Basically, European legislation underlines the necessity of the development of the internal market where there remain no barriers for the free movement of goods that implies the total abolition of custom duties and protective domestic economic policy.
On analyzing the measures undertaken by the government of the member state A, it is possible to state that this basically affects European legislation concerning the abolition of measures of discriminatory domestic taxation. This is why before the assessment and evaluation of these measures, it is necessary to briefly remind that according to European legislative norms () no member state shall impose, directly or indirectly, on the products of other member states any internal taxation of any kind in excess of that imposed directly or indirectly on similar domestic products. Neither any member state shall impose on the products of other member states any internal taxation of such a nature as to afford indirect protection to other products. Moreover, internal taxation may not be discriminatory imposed between domestic products and imports.
In such a way, it is obvious that the legislation and domestic policy of a member state of the EU should correspond to the basic principles mentioned above which may be viewed as a catalyst of correspondence or local, national policy to the general legislation of the EU.
Assessment of the member state A’s measures in respect to the free movement of goods legislation
In such a context, the introduction of a tax on electronic games available to consumers under the age of 18 by the government of the member state A is probably the most arguable point among all other measures recently undertaken by this state. The main reason for such a conclusion is the fact that, even though the goal of the introduction of such a tax is noble and good since the revenue from the tax will be used to fund the promotion of sports projects in the member state A, its effect will negatively affect the member state B since over 90% of electronic games sold in the member state A are produced there.
From purely legislative point of view, the introduction of such a tax seems to be an attempt of the government of the member state A not simply to protect children’s interests, health and normal development, but it also targets at the support of the local sport projects. What is even more important, such a state support is realized by means of taxation of goods which are basically imported from the member state B.
In fact, it is obvious that the local market of the electronic games is basically occupied by companies representing the member state B. This is why it is quite an arguable point to introduce the tax on electronic games and there are several reasons. Firstly, this tax seems to be discriminatory because it dramatically affects the foreign companies, namely those of the member state B, and imposes additional fiscal barriers on their way to the market of electronic games in the member state A, to the extent, that it may be less or even unprofitable for them to export these products. Secondly, the reason of the introduction of this law is not very clear since it is primarily necessary to scientifically prove the negative effects of electronic games on child’s development, otherwise the introduction of the law in terms of child’s protection policy is illogical, if not to say unsubstantiated. In this respect, it is worthy of note that it is practically impossible to impose such a fiscal barriers for absolutely all electronic games because some of them may be, in contrast to probably negative expectations of the government of the member state A, very useful for the balanced development of children. For instance, it is a well-known fact that some electronic games may be used in educative purposes and contribute to the development of children. Thirdly, it seems to be unjust to redirect the income from this tax on the development of the local sports projects, which, by the way, may be quite profitable from the commercial point of view. As a result, such a measure of the member state A seems to be discriminatory for the goods, namely electronic games, of the member state B which company turn to be indirectly and without their own will sponsoring sports project in the member state A.
Naturally, the government of the member state A may argue that it has its own reasons for the introduction of this tax. For instance, it is possible to remind that potentially electronic games may be really dangerous for the psychological development of children but it does not concern absolutely all electronic games and, what is more, it does not justify the introduction of the tax as the means of the struggle with the negative impact of electronic games. In response, the member state A may argue that sponsored sports project are useful for children but it is still unclear why the government is so selective in the choice of sources of funding of this projects. Finally, the government of the member state A may argue that this measure is not discriminatory since local companies are equally affected. However, it is obvious that the share of the local companies is really insignificant compare to 90% share of the companies representing the member state B. Moreover, it is possible to presuppose that this tax aims at the decrease of the role of the latter in the local market of electronic games since, if companies from the member state B cannot afford this tax, they will be forced to give in or simply leave this market while, in response, the local companies will naturally gain larger share as having experience of operation in the local market, especially if further changes in the taxation policy in favour of local producers are expected.
As for other measures of the government of the member state A, they are quite objective and basically correspond to basic norms of European legislation, though the requirement to place a health warning and advice on food items containing high sugar, salt, or/and fat may be an additional burden for companies exporting such products to the member state A from other countries of the EU.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that among the list of measures recently undertaken by the government of the member state A, the introduction of the tax on electronic games available to consumers under the age of 18 seems to be the most arguable. Moreover, it is even possible to estimate that it is discriminatory since it is not really justified and creates fiscal barriers on the way of the free movement of products, i.e. electronic games, from the member state B.
In such a situation, it is possible to recommend: firstly, to provide a thorough research concerning the effect of electronic games in order to justify the introduction of the tax mentioned above in terms of child’s protection policy; secondly, it is necessary to introduce the tax more carefully and only on the basis of the research mentioned above in order to avoid taxation of products which do not harm child health and development; thirdly, if neither of the measures mentioned above is undertaken, it is recommended to abolish the practical implementation of the tax.
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