EU Law - Information on Important EU Legal Issues

If you want to ensure that your organisation is operating within the EU’s legal framework and in accordance with the relevant regulations in other European countries, you should spend some time studying a few important legal issues. A good place to start is the website Doing Business in the European Union, made available by the EU.

If you are interested in the original EU texts, you can find directives, regulations, previous decisions and various other documents in the EUR-Lex database. You can research national legislation within the individual EU member states using the European database N-Lex. In addition to these, we would like to briefly introduce you to a few important EU legal topics below.

European Single Market

The European single market is an important component of the European Union (EU). It is a common market in which goods, services, capital and people can circulate freely. The aim of the single market is to aid the integration of EU countries and to enable economic trade within the EU. It is to this end that the borders between member states have largely been abolished and trade barriers have been removed. This should free EU countries to realise their full economic potential, thereby strengthening the EU’s competitiveness in a global context. The single market is one of the EU’s primary success stories and has helped the EU to grow together into one of the largest economic regions in the world. You can find a good introduction to single market legislation here.

The EU’s Definition of SMEs

Just like upgrade2europe, the EU supports, among other things, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). To benefit from EU funding, it is often necessary for a company to meet the EU’s SME criteria. It is therefore worth checking whether your company qualifies as an SME. You can check this by using the self-assessment tool provided by the EU. The most important criteria characterising your company as an SME are the maximum limits for the number of employees, your turnover and your total assets.

General Data Protection Regulation

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework for the protection of personal data. The GDPR is designed to increase data protection and privacy, promote transparency and ensure the accountability of organisations handling personal data. You can find out more about the EU’s data protection regulations here.

You can find further interesting information about the GDPR on the website GDPR.EU, which is the product of an EU-funded project. Since the GDPR poses a particular challenge to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and organisations (SMOs), it is worth using the GDPR compliance checklist provided on this page. Even though this website does not replace legal advice, it can help you to avoid fines, for example.

Information for Manufacturers

If your company manufactures products, we advise that you check the relevant EU standards and technical specifications for the products you manufacture. You can find information directly on the European Standards website and by consulting the text on Standards and Norms on the upgrade2europe website.

Access2Markets will provide you with the information you need when trading with third countries, for example information about customs duties, taxes, procedures, formalities and requirements, rules of origin, statistics, trade barriers, etc.

Information for Service Providers

If you plan to provide services within other European countries, you can search here to find the relevant contacts in your target regions. There are so-called ‘points of single contact’ in each EU country to help you obtain information. These ‘points of single contact’ will help you with the following topics and more besides:
  • licences, registrations, or permits required to set up a business;
  • requirements for offering services in other European countries without setting up a new company or a local subsidiary;
  • recognition for professional qualifications and regulated professions;
  • labour and social law and
  • regulations for public procurement.

Tax Regulations

When it comes to company taxation, you will find here basic information on the tax treatment of companies and organisations in the various EU countries. These rules are set by national authorities and therefore vary between EU countries.

It is also important to understand the issue of VAT. Although there are some general rules that apply across the EU, their application within the different EU countries is not completely standardised. You can find a good introduction to this topic here.

Useful Links and Further Information

The legal regulations that apply in your foreign target markets are an essential basis for your cross-border activities in Europe. You should be familiar with them.

You can find further helpful articles and tips in this upgrade2europe learning tool, in our learning videos and in our upgrade2europe handbook. In the handbook, for example, you will find an introduction to the so-called PESTLE analysis, which you can use to systematically analyse the external conditions of your process of Europeanisation in six areas, including the area of law. You can use our self-assessment tool if you would like to immediately check online to what extent your organisation is well positioned for Europe.