The president of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE), Vassilis Korkidis, issued a statement on the European Union’s proposal VAT arrangements for small European businesses.

“The ESEE supports from the outset the European Commission’s Action Plan 2016 and the measures described therein to facilitate compliance with VAT on business. It has already been set up to extend a single VAT, as an important step in the right direction.

In the same vein, we will also support the latest proposals on specific VAT rates schemes for small businesses, both at national level and in the European organisations we are participating, such as ESEC, UEAPME and EuroCommerce.

The latter even expresses some concerns about the major European commercial companies, which mainly represent. In particular, EuroCommerce warns that by giving member states the flexibility to choose new reduced rates for small businesses, it will simply add to an already complex situation, a fragmentation of VAT systems when a simpler and more harmonized approach is needed. It points out that addressing different VAT systems in the single market is one of the main obstacles to retailing and wholesale of all sizes, while at the same time differences between member states’ regimes will do nothing to simplify business activity. In addition, it also argues that companies need reliable information to operate and will examine how the announced pan-European portal can provide businesses with easier access to information on VAT rates. Several member states call for more flexibility in setting VAT rates and businesses are already facing about 100 different VAT rates across Europe and different ways of defining the products and services covered by them.

Surely, in Greece, we are all in favour of lower VAT rates and the ESEE for its part believes that reduced VAT proposals that facilitate small businesses will help most companies reduce their compliance costs. The proposals may initially leave member states to decide whether they want to introduce this VAT facility, but we ultimately believe that the proposed measures will be more closely linked to the introduction of a definitive VAT regime.

It is a fact that the difficult decision-making process in the EU on tax changes slows the reforms urgently needed by businesses. Perhaps, however, the upcoming European elections in May 2019 will help to speed up the time needed, wanting the current Parliament to leave behind a positive tax bill. However, it is disappointing for European trade to see necessary changes, such as the one-stop scheme and the abolition of the VAT threshold for imports of small consignments, have a timetable for implementation in 2021. Lastly, it is noted that these legislative proposals will follow the usual time bureaucracy, since they will now be submitted to the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee for consultation and of course to the Commission for final approval before the welcome implementation.”