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British power over VAT to be abolished

March 19th, 2000

Eurocrats want to slap VAT on kiddies’ clothes
VAT will be slapped on the price of baby clothes, newspapers, books and some foods under plans unveiled by Brussels last night.  EU chiefs want all member states to have the same tax levels for everything…And they plan to scrap Britain’s right to vary it.  That means EU laws could be foisted on us if a majority of countries backed them.
(The Sun, page 2, 15 March 2000)

Blair faces EU ambush over tax harmonisation
Tony Blair has become the victim of a political ambush on the eve of a European Union summit…by moves to abolish Britain’s national veto in key areas of taxation, VAT and social security policy.
(The Sunday Telegraph, page 2, 19 March 2000)

Despite the obvious delight of the sceptic press, there was no “ambush” and there is no proposal to “slap” the same tax levels on everything.  A contribution from the Commission to the Inter-Governmental Conference proposes that Qualified Majority Voting become the norm for future decisions on VAT, in particular those designed to simplify the present outdated system and adapt it to more recent trading realities, such as electronic commerce.  All Member States would have to agree to such a change, so nothing will be “foisted” on anyone.
To assume QMV will mean harmonisation is also misleading.  Even under QMV, the EU does not simply ride roughshod over individual Member States’ vital interests.  Nor would the UK be alone.  Other Member States, who also have zero or reduced VAT rates on some products, would have similar interests.


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Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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