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European Commission - Press release

European Commission calls on Germany to change its rules on VAT

Brussels, 27 February 2012 – The European Commission has officially asked Germany to change its VAT rules as regards the application of a reduced VAT rate to the supply of works of art and collectors' items. Germany's current rules are incompatible with EU law.

In Germany, a reduced rate of VAT is applied to all supplies of works of art and collectors' items, as well as the letting of such goods.

Under EU VAT rules there is a list of goods and services that Member States are allowed to apply a reduced VAT rate to. However, that list does not include the supplies of works of art and collectors' item or the letting of such goods. The standard rate must therefore be applied on the supply of works of art and collectors' pieces within the EU.

EU legislation on reduced VAT rates must be strictly interpreted and applied in order to avoid competitive distortions within Member States and between Member States.

The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion (second step of EU infringement proceedings). If the rules are not brought into compliance within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.


For press releases issued on infringement proceedings in the area of taxation or customs see:

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/12/134.

For the most up-to-date general information on the infringement proceedings initiated against Member States, see:

Contacts :

Emer Traynor (+32 2 292 15 48)

Natasja Bohez Rubiano (+32 2 296 64 70)

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