Case Law: Case C-294/99 Athinaiki Zithopha AE v. Elliniko Dimosio (Greek State)

9 Colum. J. Eur. L. 167 (2002)

Stijn Vanoppen. Research and teaching fellow at the Institute for Tax Law, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and lawyer at the Brussels Bar (Tiberghien Advocaten). 

In the case of Athinaiki Zithopiia AE v. Greek State, dated October 4, 2000, (hereafter Athinaiki), the Court of Justice of the European Union (hereafter the Court) produced a definition for the term ‘withholding tax,’ as that term appears in Article 5 (1) of the Parent-Subsidiary Directive’ (hereafter the PSD). In this case note, we will first review the facts that immediately preceded the preliminary ruling in Athinaiki and the question that the Athens Court of Justice presented to the Court. Secondly, we will examine the Court’s decision on that question and the reasoning the Court employed. Thirdly, we will consider the compromise contained in the PSD for Greece’s previously split tax system and the significance of that historical circumstance on the Court’s decision. Finally, we will discuss the implications of the Athinaiki ruling with respect to both future adjudication concerning Article 5(1) of the PSD and the future trend of tax jurisprudence in the European Union.