The Council of Ministers and the Commission, and the European Parliament acting jointly with the Council, are empowered to issue directives in order to carry out their tasks. Directives set out the reasoning on which they are based, refer to any proposals or opinions obtained, and set out the results to be achieved. They take effect when notified to the member states to whom they are addressed. Notification creates a binding obligation on the member states concerned to give effect to the directive by whatever form or method they consider appropriate1. However, this general principle is subject to a number of qualifications.
Firstly, the terms of a directive may give member states power to adapt certain principles to meet national requirements2, or not to introduce them at all3. A directive may also allow member states to maintain measures in force at a specified date4. Where this discretion is exercised, national courts have a duty to determine whether the national legislation falls outside the margin of discretion allowed by the directive, and to take this into account when giving effect to the taxpayer's claim5.
Secondly, member states may apply special measures to simplify the procedure for charging tax, or to prevent certain types of tax evasion or avoidance, where the member state is so authorised by the council acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission6. Provided that amendments to national legislation remain within the authorised schemes, approval is not required from the Commission for such amendments7. For decisions authorising derogations