On 27 June 2013, Rosario Silva de Lapuerta, Judge at the Court of Justice of the EU, delivered a judgment in the case C-71/12 Vodafone Malta and Mobisle Communications (Industrial Policy).In Malta, operators in the telecommunications sector have claimed before the Maltese Courts that excise duty on mobile telephony services is incompatible with the Authorisation Directive. The excise duty, levied at the rate of 3% of the price of those services, is paid by users to operators, who subsequently pass it on to the tax authorities. The Qorti Konstituzzjonali (Constitutional Court, Malta) asks the Court whether the Directive precludes the excise duty in question.The Court’s reply is that excise duty the trigger for which is linked not to a general authorisation procedure for access to the electronic telecommunications services market but to the use of mobile telephony services provided by operators and which is borne by the user of such services does not constitute an administrative charge within the meaning of the Directive. Lastly, the Court points out that it is for the Maltese court to verify all the characteristics of the excise duty in question and, if it is in fact akin to a tax on consumption, it will not be incompatible with the Directive.
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