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Parliamentary questions
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1 December 2005
Answer given by Mr Kovács on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-4006/2005

The Commission is in favour of lessening the administrative burden on businesses as regards VAT declarations and payment as far as possible, especially for businesses that are not established in the Member States in which they carry out the taxable operations. A distinction must be made, however, between lessening the burden and creating VAT exemptions which would not otherwise be justified in the context of the workings of the single market. The systematic exemption of supplies of goods on board boats transporting passengers inside the Community could not therefore be justified.

The European Court of Justice recently ruled in this respect that sales made during stops in third countries do not fall under the scope of the Sixth VAT Directive 77/388/EEC(1) of 17 May 1977. A stop in a third country however does not prevent the journey from being described as passenger transport inside the Community, as both the point of departure and the point of arrival are inside the Community. Supplies of goods made on board ships during the transportation of passengers remain within the scope of the sixth directive, except for supplies of goods made during stops in third countries.(2)

With the objective of simplifying VAT obligations for businesses carrying out taxable operations in Member States in which they are not established, the Commission presented a proposal for a Council directive on 29 October 2004 to set up a ‘one stop’ system to enable businesses to fulfil all their VAT declaration obligations from the country in which they are established.(3) The easing of the administrative burden which would result from the implementation of this ‘one stop’ scheme should answer the honourable member’s concerns.

As regards goods on which excise duty is due, the Commission has in fact received very few complaints on this matter from Member States or economic operators. One initiative launched by an association aimed at bringing further simplifications was repeatedly examined some time ago, from the technical point of view, by the Member States. Although a supplementary simplification along those lines may be appropriate, agreement on the question is still some way off. It should be recalled that the Commission will not draw up specific measures in this domain unless it enjoys the support of at least the majority of the Member States.

(1)Sixth Council Directive 77/388/EEC of 17 May 1977 on the harmonisation of the laws of the Member States relating to turnover taxes — Common system of value added tax: uniform basis of assessment, OJ L 145 of 13.6.1977, amended by Council Directive 98/80/EC of 12 October 1998, OJ L 281 of 17.10.1998.
(2)Judgment of the Court of Justice of 15 September 2005, Case C‑58/04, Köhler v Finanzamt Düsseldorf-Nord.
(3)COM(2004)728 final.

OJ C 327, 30/12/2006
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