When IT Meets Politics

Dec 18 2014   10:15AM GMT

Christmas indigestion for online retailers: what is the effect of pan-EU VAT regime?

Philip Virgo Profile: Philip Virgo

Tags:
Brussels
Cross-Border
DPA
EU
European Union
GS1
Ukraine
VAT

If you have not yet read any of the arguments over what the new pan-EU VAT regime means for UK-based on-line retailers (large, small or micro) or are wondering how it will be implemented and enforced I recommend you do not do so over Christmas.

It will merely give you a mix of apoplexy and indigestion leading potentially to rancorous arguments with any relatives who work outside the community of internationalist digerati.
  
I would, however, remind you that ehat has happened is all your fault.

When I was Secretary General of EURIM (now the Digital Policy Alliance“), I used to regularly warn of the dangers of Euro Ping-Pong during meetings on the e-Commerce Directive and allied initiatives,hosted for us by then Electronic Commerce Association (now GS1), rapporteured for me by Will Roebuck while the Commission was consulting (and it did) before it gave up on trying to the right thing (whatever that might have been) and “harmonised” on Brussels fudge. And I gave up and focussed on UK-centric issues where I could make a difference.

Those who are serious about wanting to sort out the resultant mess should give rather more support to our successors, particularly the DPA plans to “support” (including inserting the necessary corporate, political and social “rockets”) exercises to turn the current “reform” programme into the action plans needed for the EU to survive the next decade. I have great respect for the rapporteurs who are ready to support the DPA plans (I chose most of them and they have turned out even better than I expected) but they can only help produce balanced and representative results if those who will be affected by the chaos that is to come actually join, to help cover the overhead costs, and are then active in making their views known and working together on that which they can agree.

We now face the consequences of past compromises as governments world wide (not just within the EU) scramble for tax revenues while the world economy spirals downwards.  Governments face a triple fiscal whammy as the growing impact of the Ukraine dispute and associated sanctions coincides with the decision of Saudi Arabia to cripple its political enemies and erstwhile competitors and the US decision to rein  in its budget deficit. One “side effect” is that the on-line world will, in future, have to compete with the high street on efficiency and convenience, not just tax avoidance.

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