UK SOLVIT Success Stories 1. Market Access for Products UK v Germany A UK company which manufactures Marine Electronics Equipment in compliance with the Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive 1999/5/EC (R&TTE), was informed by the German licensing authorities that unless one their products, a marine VHF with Class D Digital Selective Calling (DSC) had been re-tested in Germany, customers would not be granted radio station licences to use it. The product met the essential requirements of the Directive and the current harmonised standard ( EN 300-025-3) and should have been accepted in the market. For over a year, the company had tried to get the product on the markets and failed. With SOLVIT’s intervention, within 10 weeks the product was accepted without further testing. The refusal to accept the product and the need for re-testing would have cost the company over €1,000,000. UK v France A UK company’s products were refused access to the French market because the French authorities claimed that they did not comply with French consumer law. As the products were manufactured, sold and accepted in the UK, under the Cassis-Dijon principle they should generally be accepted in other Member States. Following SOLVIT’s intervention, the products were accepted. 2. Tax UK v Netherlands A UK firm paid the Dutch authorities employment tax for workers it supplied to an oil company. The Dutch Authorities withheld nearly €13,000 in tax which should have been refunded to the UK firm. No response had been received to the UK firm’s requests and no reasons were given for the delay. Within 24 days of SOLVIT’s involvement, the administrative problems had been resolved and the company received an apology for the delay. UK v Spain A UK company operating a consignment stock facility in Spain was advised by the Spanish authorities that it had to appoint a fiscal representative in Spain to handle its Spanish tax liability. EU legislation was amended and that was no longer a requirement but the Spanish did not change their rules. Within 10 days of SOLVIT’s involvement, the UK company received confirmation from the Spanish authorities that the appointment of a fiscal representative was no longer required. UK v Spain A British firm was finding it impossible to get a VAT refund it was owed from the Spanish authorities. SOLVIT helped the firm to get a rapid €98,000 refund and interest within seven weeks. UK v Germany A UK software company was advised by a German client that a quarter of the payment due to it had to be withheld and paid directly to the German Authorities as tax. SOLVIT discovered that there was an exemption from this tax and provided details that enabled the company to make an application under the Double Taxation Agreement. UK v France A British firm had been trading successfully in France for many years. Following an application for a tax refund, the company discovered that the French Ministry had applied to have the firm’s assets frozen. There was no apparent reason for that action and the firm was given no warning or notice. The action did not accord with the terms of the Community Customs Code and SOLVIT requested an enquiry. The French authorities confirmed that the company should not have been investigated. The proposed legal action was dropped and the tax refunds were paid. UK v France A UK citizen moved to France and established a vineyard, a business that would not make money for many years. The French authorities consistently demanded a tax on the business every year despite assurances from a French tax lawyer that the business did not make money and no tax should be due. Within one week of SOLVIT’s involvement, the client was advised by the French authorities that a mistake had been made and a revision of his circumstances would be made. 3. Market Access for Services UK v Spain A UK pharmaceutical company intending to carry out drug trials in Spain was refused an import licence. This was despite already obtaining the regulatory and ethical approval to carry out the trials in Spain, and already carrying out the trials without problem in other Member States. Delays could have caused the business to fail as without full trials the product could not be sold. SOLVIT negotiated with the Spanish authorities and obtained a resolution for the company so that, within a very short period of time after, it received its licence. UK v Italy A UK-registered toxicologist, employed by companies throughout the world to assess the safety of imported cosmetic products, found that the Italian authorities were refusing to recognise his assessments and demanding that all products be re-tested by an Italian toxicologist. Italian companies would not employ him if they had to pay for double testing. SOLVIT obtained confirmation from the Italian authorities that they would recognise the UK toxicologist’s assessments, and he was allowed to work in Italy. 4. Right of Establishment For 12 months the authorities in another Member State had refused to allow a UK company to provide distribution services unless it registered the company in that Member State. Within 3 months of being contacted, SOLVIT helped secure agreement from the authorities that registration would not be necessary, thereby enabling the UK company to start operating there. UK v Poland A UK telecommunications company wanted to provide telecommunication services in Poland and applied for a licence to do so. They were advised by the Polish authorities that the company had to be registered in the Commercial Register for Telecommunications Companies and/or in the Records of Economic Activities. Both these require registration of the company in Poland and that was in contravention of Article 43 of the EC Treaty. With SOLVIT’s intervention, the Polish authorities not only granted the licence but also amended their procedures to reflect Art 43 5. Recognition of Professional Qualifications UK v Spain A UK doctor whose qualifications fully complied with the requirements of EU Directive, was advised by the Spanish Authorities that recognition of his qualifications would take at least two years. The Directive provides that Member States are only able to take four months to make such assessments. Within four weeks of SOLVIT’s intervention, the doctor was granted permission to work as a doctor in Spain. UK v Spain A fully qualified UK doctor seeking recognition of his qualifications in order to work in the Canary Islands, found that the authorities refused to respond to his concerns about delays with his application. Following SOLVIT’s intervention, it was found that the delay was due to administrative problems and the client obtained his certificates within four weeks from the date of complaint. UK v Spain A UK qualified driving instructor applied to have her qualifications recognised to allow her to work in Spain. She was given a four-year driving licence whilst Spanish instructors are given life-time licences. Following the intervention of SOLVIT, the Spanish Authorities granted the applicant a life-time licence. UK v Belgium A fully qualified UK doctor encountered significant delays with the recognition of his qualifications. The Belgian authorities passed the responsibility from one Ministry to another, without explanation. Within 16 days of SOLVIT’s involvement, the client was granted his certificate. UK v Germany A UK hairdresser seeking to open a hairdressing salon in Munich was refused permission on the grounds that she had not obtained certification of her training and experience from the correct UK body. SOLVIT advised the German Authorities that the certification provided was from the competent body in the United Kingdom, and the client was forthwith issued with a licence.
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