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European Commission - Press release

The Commission asks Belgium to respect the wishes of the 26 other Member States concerning tax exemptions

Brussels, 27 February 2012 - The European Commission has asked Belgium to comply with European laws on European Union tax exemptions. These laws were adopted by the Member States to avoid the European institutions paying taxes benefiting a single State (the host State) and leading to an increase in the European budget.

Since the adoption of the orders on the organisation of the electricity and gas market in the Brussels Capital Region, invoices for electricity and gas consumption in the buildings occupied by the institutions in Brussels have included the taxes laid down in these orders.

The application of these taxes to the EU institutions is an infringement of the provisions on tax exemptions provided for by law. In parallel with the infringement procedure under Article 258 of the Treaty (TFEU), the Commission is bringing a legal action under Belgian law to ask for the exemption to be applied and the taxes already paid to be refunded. The amount of such taxes for 2004-2008 is currently in excess of €4 million and is increasing with each monthly invoice.

The Commission has sent a reasoned opinion to Belgium, which has two months to comply with the law. If it fails to do so, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

This exemption does not affect European officials established in Brussels, who, like all other Brussels residents, pay the energy taxes applicable in Belgium.

Background: Union tax exemptions

Under EU law, adopted by the Member States, the governments of the Member States must exempt the EU institutions established in their territories from indirect taxes and sales taxes when these institutions make substantial purchases for their official use.

See also: MEMO/12/134

Contacts :

Antonio Gravili (+32 2 295 43 17)

Marilyn Carruthers (+32 2 299 94 51)

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