European Commission - Press release
Taxation: Commission refers The Netherlands to Court over VAT rules for travel agents
Brussels, 16 June 2011 – The European Commission has today decided to refer The Netherlands to the EU's Court of Justice for failing to properly implement EU VAT rules for travel agents. The VAT Directive 2006/112/EC contains special rules (the so-called "special margin scheme") for travel agents when they sell travel packages to travellers. Given the fact that elements of the packages may be located in different countries and therefore may be subject to different VAT rules, the VAT Directive provides for a simplified application of VAT for travel agents. However, the scheme does not apply to travel agents who sell holiday packages to other companies, in particular to other travel agents for re-sale. However, The Netherlands has failed to properly implement this special scheme for travel agents and has applied it to sales between travel agents. This creates distortions of competition between travel agencies and leads to some agents carrying a heavier tax burden than others.
The Commission had already sent a reasoned opinion (second step of an infringement proceeding) to The Netherlands in February 2008 (IP/08/333). Although Dutch authorities informed the Commission that they would bring their law into line with the VAT Directive as of 1 April 2011, they still have not done so.
In 2006, the Commission analysed the application of the special margin scheme for travel agents across the EU and found 13 Member States, including The Netherlands, to be implementing it incorrectly. Incorrect implementation may lead to distortion of competition between travel agents as some of them may be subject to a heavier tax burden than others. Since then, Cyprus, Hungary, Latvia and the UK have changed their legislation to comply with the requirements of EU law. However, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain did not take the necessary measures to amend their rules, which is why the Commission already decided to refer them to the EU's Court of Justice (IP/11/76).
For the press releases issued on infringement proceedings in the area of taxation or customs see:
For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/408.
For the most up-to date general information on the infringement proceedings initiated against Member States, see: