HomeInsightsEuropean Commission publishes proposal for Directive on rates of VAT on books, newspapers and periodicals

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The Commission’s proposed Directive effectively amends the current VAT Directive (2006/112/EC) and gives all Member States the option to choose to apply zero, super reduced, or reduced VAT rates, which are currently applicable to printed newspapers and magazines, to the digital environment.

The proposal states: “Member States should be enabled to align the VAT rates for electronically supplied publications with lower VAT rates for publications on any means of physical support”.

The proposal is part of a package of reforms on new tax rules to support e-commerce and online businesses in the EU generally as part of the Digital Single Market Strategy. The aim is to allow consumers and companies, in particular start-ups and SMEs, to buy and sell goods and services more easily online.

The European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) and the European Magazine Media Association (EMMA) have jointly welcomed the Commission’s proposal.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker formally initiated the change in a speech in 2015, at the annual German newspaper industry conference, following the Commission’s public consultation. ENPA and EMMA responded to the consultation stating the urgent need for reducing VAT rates for the press-publishing sector in the digital environment.

ENPA and EMMA argue that reducing VAT rates for e-newspapers and e-periodicals in all formats and on all platforms would allow for more investment in digital innovation and journalistic content. It would also lower the administrative burdens on Europe’s press, resulting in positive consequences for the sector’s long-term sustainability. It is an essential step in guaranteeing media pluralism and establishes a basis for freedom of opinion and democracy in the digital world, they say.

ENPA President, Carlo Perrone, said: “This proposal is essential for ensuring press publishers a sustainable future in the digital environment. It contributes to Europe’s main’s democratic values in promoting access to professional journalistic content, education and media literacy, and many European citizens are accessing their news today via digital platforms”. To access the Commission’s proposal, click here. To read the ENPA and EMMA press release in full, click here.