VAT – new implementing powers for the Commission

EESC opinion: VAT – new implementing powers for the Commission

Key points:


  • supports the general objective pursued by the Commission proposal, since ensuring legal certainty and predictability with regard to the VAT Directive is crucial to creating a level playing field across Member States and to further promoting the single market;
  • underlines that more uniformity of the VAT rules could indeed reduce compliance costs and be conducive to growth for all enterprises operating in the EU and, especially, for SMEs working on a transnational basis;
  • stresses that discrepancies with regard to the application of the VAT rules can bring about significant adverse distortions across the internal market and, as a consequence, negative social effects which should be prevented by ensuring more consistency in the application of the existing rules;
  • cannot refrain from noting that the Commission proposal, and in particular the proposed outline of issues to be addressed under the new set of rules, might come up against significant resistance from many Member States, which could likely raise "principled objections" to the Commission proposal;
  • calls for the consideration of other measures able to improve the single market as early as possible and suggests that the Commission, as a first step, consider improving and strengthening the existing advisory Committee on VAT and its decision-making process, in order to enhance the unsatisfactory degree of uniformity of VAT rules across Member States;
  • considers it useful to duly trace heterogeneous applications and implementations of agreed VAT rules at national level. It is important to make the existing differences transparent, clear and public in order to improve uniformity under the current regulatory framework;
  • stresses that this approach might result in an effective system of "peer pressure", making it much harder for Member States to deviate from consolidated interpretations and implementation practices to the detriment of the internal market;
  • considers it important that the Commission carry out impact assessments of any differences in the implementation or interpretation of agreed VAT rules in any Member State. The impact assessments should be made public, duly discussed and followed up within the VAT Committee.