Over the past 4 years several European countries have been fighting a legal battle over the taxes they have to collect on ebooks. Luxembourg and France broke EU regulations when they lowered their ebook tax rates, were sued by the EU, and earlier this year they lost their case before the European Court of Justice.
So guess what the EU has decided to do now that they've won the legal battle?
They're talking about changing the regulations so all EU member states can lower the tax rates for ebooks. The new rules could be announced as early as next year.
Buch Report, Spiegel, and other sources reported on Thursday that Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, was speaking Wednesday night at a meeting of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) in Brussels when he broke the news.
Juncker said that Pierre Moscovici, the EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, will submit a new tax initiative in the first half of 2016 which will propose a reduced VAT for digital media content in the EU. The initiative will lower the VAT collected on the electronic editions of books, newspapers and magazines to the same rate applied to the paper equivalent. In Germany, for example, ebooks would be taxed at 7%.
Enacting the initiative, and then changing the national tax laws, will probably take an additional 3 to 4 years. The new regulations should come into effect just about the time the EU throws the book at Malta and Italy for having lowered their ebook tax rates late last year.
Now if only the EU could have decided to move in this direction before France and Luxembourg were sued, lost, and ordered to raise their tax rates on ebooks; it would have saved everyone a lot of frustration.
But no, I think the EU regulators care more about making sure the current regulations are enforced, and about dotting all the eyes and crossing all the tees, rather than asking whether the regulations made sense.
And that brings me to today's revelation. I now understand one of Douglas Adams' inspirations.
In his most famous work, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Adams introduced a species of bureaucrat called Vogons. It is now plain that European regulators were his inspiration for that species.
Watch this clip, and then tell me I am wrong:
Seriously, folks, the EU has wasted how much time, effort, and funds enforcing the current regulations only to decide to start changing said regulations two months later?
That's just ridiculous.