Artists and consumers urge European Union to support a VAT cut on sound recordings
Brussels, 7th October 2003
French artist and composer Jean Michel Jarre today urged the European Parliament in Brussels to support a VAT reduction on sound recordings. He was joined by a group of European artists including Helmut Lotti, Yves Barbieux of Urban Trad, Kate Ryan, Lasgo and Ian Van Dahl. Artists Raoul Paz and Skye also travelled from Paris to perform outside the Parliament and raise awareness of artists' concerns about VAT on music. VAT on sound recordings is currently set at between 15% and 25%, while other cultural products such as books, magazines, newspapers, entrance tickets to cinemas, theatres and concerts benefit from reduced rates upwards of 5%.
At a parliamentary hearing where he spoke on behalf of the VAT Coalition*, Jarre asked MEPs for their help in putting an end to cultural discrimination against music. He called on their support for the inclusion of sound recordings to the list of cultural products eligible for reduced VAT rates. The EU is currently reviewing the 6th VAT Directive and its system of reduced rates.
Jarre said: "Music is a vital part of our cultural life and work by European artists epitomises Europe's cultural diversity. It simply makes no sense that sound recordings are not eligible for the same reduced VAT rates as other cultural products. The EU should seize the opportunity to put right this wrong."
In advance of the hearing organised by the Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, entertainment retailers presented a petition which had been signed by over 140,000 EU consumers demanding a VAT cut on sound recordings. The Petition was signed in retail stores and on music websites across Europe. Rodolphe Buet, Director of Music and Video Products at Fnac, said: "Fnac has always been at the forefront of this campaign for a reduced VAT rate. The petitions show the support of our customers for a VAT cut. We call on the Finance Ministers to heed our call and end the cultural discrimination against music."
A VAT Coalition comprising representatives of authors, composers, music publishers, performing artists, artist managers, independent and major record companies, entertainment retailers and collective management societies, have united under the banner "Give Music a Break" to press for a VAT cut on sound recordings. Entertainment retailers and record companies have given a public undertaking to maximise the benefits of a VAT reduction for European consumers, making the incredible diversity of European music more accessible for everybody.
The music sector's campaign has the backing of over 1,300 European artists and composers who have signed petitions calling for a VAT reduction on sound recordings. Signatories include: Roberto Alagna, Cecilia Bartoli, Andrea Bocelli, Pierre Boulez, Patrick Bruel, Carla Bruni, Chris de Burgh, Johnny Hallyday, Julio Iglesias, Elton John, Eros Ramazzotti, Axelle Red, Nana Mouskouri and Anne-Sophie Mutter. They are joined by a whole range of niche artists, all of whom make a vital contribution to Europe's diversity, heritage and reputation for innovation. The full text can be seen at www.givemusicabreak.com. This artists' petition complements the new consumer petition presented today.
Despite evidence of the benefits of a VAT reduction for EU consumers and the entire music sector, the European Commission failed to include sound recordings in its July 2003 proposal on reduced VAT rates. However, the final decision will be taken by EU Finance Ministers. The Finance Ministers who are meeting in Luxembourg today are expected to agree on changes to the VAT Directive before the end of the year. The European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee will give an advisory opinion on reduced VAT rates to the Finance Ministers following today's hearing where they will listen to presentations from a number of sectors.
A five-country survey, carried out by research agency Martin Hamblin GfK (December 2002), indicated that a VAT reduction on sound recordings would give a significant boost to the recorded music market in Europe. A number of EU governments have already expressed the wish to treat sound recordings as cultural goods from a VAT viewpoint.
*The VAT Coalition comprises:
EMO - European Music Office,
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