European Commission’s President encouraged to change Vat policy in the heritage sector

On 15 February 2016, Europa Nostra co-signed a letter to the European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker concerning the imminent European debate on a new VAT policy for Member States. This letter drew the attention of President Juncker to how a change in tax policy would be beneficial to securing heritage as an economic force and valuable contributor to the quality of life in Europe for future generations.

Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President. Photo: EPP Group (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President. Photo: EPP Group (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Two concrete proposals were suggested to the European Commission’s President:
1. to encourage Member States to apply a reduced rate of VAT on expenditure connected with the repair of privately-owned heritage buildings; and
2. to achieve that objective by including a reduced rate of VAT for services related to heritage conservation work in Annex III of Directive 2006/112/EC, as originally suggested by the Commission in 2008.

The Report of the European cooperation project ‘Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe’ was annexed to the letter to highlight the impact of cultural heritage on the economy, society, culture and environment of Europe.

European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, responsible for Financial and Economic Affairs, Taxation and Customs, sent a short reply to this letter on behalf of President Juncker stressing the subsidiarity principle in VAT policy and the preference of the Commission to devolve as much autonomy as possible to Member States. He also announced that a Commission Action Plan on VAT will be published soon.

This joint position was coordinated by the European Historic Houses Association (EHHA), which is a Member Organisation of Europa Nostra and a member of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3, together with Europa Nostra, the European Landowners’ Organisation (ELO), the European Property Federation (EPF), Future for Religious Heritage (FRH) and the International Union of Property Owners (UIPI).

An adequate follow-up will be prepared by European Historic Houses Association and its partners before the next informal meeting of economic and financial affairs ministers on 22-23 April in Amsterdam on the occasion of the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

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