Celebratory Symposium for Rudolf Mellinghoff: “European Tax Constitutional Law”

Celebratory Symposium for Rudolf Mellinghoff: “European Tax Constitutional Law”

On the occasion of the retirement of Professor Dr. h.c. Rudolf Mellinghoff as President of the German Federal Fiscal Court, the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance, together with the Institute for Tax Law of the University of Cologne and the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Foundation, organised a symposium on “European Tax Constitutional Law”.

From left to right: Christoph Spengel, hosts Wolfgang Schön
and Johanna Hey,  guest of honor Rudolf Mellinghoff

The conference was twice postponed by one year due to the Corona pandemic. However, the will to honour the work of Rudolf Mellinghoff with this special occasion was undiminished on the part of the speakers and among the guests. Mellinghoff, as a long-standing member of the Board of Trustees, is also closely associated with our Institute.

Therefore, on 20 May 2022, Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Wolfgang Schön, as one of the hosts, was finally able to welcome an illustrious circle of Mellinghoff’s comrades-in-arms and companions on the premises of the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Foundation in the Schlossrondell Nymphenburg.

Wolfgang Schön addressed his words of welcome to not only a proud number of active and former members of the highest German and European courts, but also to his academic colleagues and representatives from politics and the private sector.

The list of guests included the President of the Federal Constitutional Court Stephan Harbarth, Vice President Doris König and former President Andreas Voßkuhle. Also in attendance were the former President of the Federal Labor Court Ingrid Schmidt and the President of the Federal Social Court Rainer Schlegel as well as Hans-Josef Thesling, the successor of Rudolf Mellinghoff in the office of the President of the Federal Fiscal Court.

The speakers were welcomed with special cordiality, as well. In addition to the two hosts, Prof. Dr. Johanna Hey from the University of Cologne and Wolfgang Schön, numerous colleagues contributed to this day of honour for Rudolf Mellinghoff with lectures.

The first to speak was Mellinghoff’s mentor, Prof. Dr. Dres. h.c. Paul Kirchhof, former judge at the Federal Constitutional Court, who held the laudatory speech for the guest of honour under the title “from one who set out to explore the world of tax law”.

Prof. Dr. Hanno Kube, Director of the Institute for Financial and Tax Law at the Ruprecht Karls University in Heidelberg, then opened the first lecture panel of the day. He outlined the relationship between European and national constitutional tax law. His analysis culminated in a plea for the transfer of further competences to the Union, enabling the enactment of conceptually designed secondary legislation.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. h.c. Juliane Kokott, Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union, discussed the current “competences of the European tax legislator” in her lecture and questioned whether the internal market competence could bear the far-reaching implementation of the BEPS requirements. In addition, she warned of increasing “de-parliamentarisation” in fundraising by the Union.

Angelika Nußberger, Juliane Kokott From left to right: Meinhard Wittwer, Rudolf Mellinghoff, Hans-Josef Thesling

Wolfgang Schön, squired by Andreas Voßkuhle, opened the afternoon panel with a presentation on “Fiscal Power and the Principle of Democracy in the European Union”. He revealed existing democratic deficits in the European multi-level system and developed a proposal to strengthen the link between decisions on the introduction of genuine EU taxes and the citizens of the Union as democratic subjects.

Following that, Mellinghoff’s long-time Karlsruhe companion, Judge at the Federal Constitutional Court Prof. Dr. Peter Michael Huber, gave a tour d’horizon on “Solidity and Solidarity in the European Financial Constitution” and noted a sometimes insufficient enforcement of the binding legal rules on solidity in favour of the programme of European solidarity.

Bernd Huber, Wolfgang Schön, Stephan Harbarth
From left to right: Peter Michael Huber, Wolfgang Schön, Stephan Harbarth

In the final panel of the day, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dr. h.c. Angelika Nußberger, retired Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights, showed how the conflict between fiscal transparency and personal privacy is resolved in different legal cultures with entirely different results.

Prof. Dr. Johanna Hey voiced some criticisms in the context of her fundamental considerations on the role of the European general principle of equality, stating that the EU tax legislator has so far only insufficiently fulfilled its responsibility for equal burden sharing in the area of fully harmonised taxes.

The Chairman of the German Society of Tax Lawyers, Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Drüen, explored the triad of freedom rights, equality rights and the principle of the rule of law in his lecture on the constitutional limits of tax access in the European Union.


text: Hintermayer/Erdem/Salzer fotos: © Eisenmann


June 2022