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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 20 November 2013

VAT: Commission refers Sweden to the Court over VAT on postal services

The European Commission has decided to refer Sweden to the Court of Justice over its application of VAT on postal services. Sweden applies VAT to some services that, under EU rules, should be exempt from VAT.

The EU VAT Directive states that services supplied by 'public postal services', and the sale of stamps, should be exempt from VAT. The Court of Justice has clarified (Case C-357/07) that the VAT exemption on postal services has to be provided to any "universal service provider", irrespective of whether the provider is a public or private operator. However, it has to be limited to the 'universal service'. Supplies of services for which the terms have been individually negotiated are not allowed to benefit from the VAT exemption.

Sweden does not exempt postal services from VAT. All operators, including the one which provides the universal service, are obliged to charge VAT. Sweden has consequently failed to apply an exemption provided for under EU legislation.


The Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Sweden in July 2007 (IP/07/1164) and suspended the proceedings awaiting the outcome of the ruling in Case C-357/07. Since it is clear that Sweden is not complying with EU law as interpreted by the Court, the Commission has now decided to refer the case to the Court of Justice.

For press releases on infringement cases in the taxation or customs field see:

For the latest general information on infringement measures against Member States see:

On the November infringement package decisions: MEMO/13/1005

On the general infringement procedure: MEMO/12/12

Contacts :

Emer Traynor (+32 2 292 15 48)

Franck Arrii (+32 2 297 22 21)

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