The Ecofin agreed on several VAT measures fixing some practical issues currently affecting EU trade of goods. In addition, the Ecofin decided to align the VAT rates for electronic and physical publications and reached agreement on some new anti-fraud measures.

1. Quick-fixes

Four 'Quick-fixes’ are introduced to the VAT-system, improving cross-border Business to Business trade in goods within the EU. These adjustments will apply from 1 January 2020.

  • VAT identification number / EC sales listing - additional conditions to apply the exemption

Currently, the VAT-identification number and the EC sales listing are mere administrative requirements and thus not essential for the exemption (or zero rate for part of the EU Member States).This will change. In addition to proving the transport of goods to another EU Member state, the supplier should (i) have a valid VAT-identification number of the recipient of the goods and (ii) include the supply in the EC sales listing.

  • EU transport - evidence to apply the exemption

For the exemption to apply, goods are presumed to have been dispatched to another EU Member State, if the supplier has at least two of non-contradictory items on a list of accepted documents.

  • Chain transactions - uniform criteria

Currently, where goods are supplied in a chain of successive supplies with only one Intra-EU transport movement (so-called ‘chain-transactions’), the Intra-Community supply and exemption can only be applied to the transaction as part of which the transport takes place. Going forward, the exemption will in principle be attributed only to the first supply.

  • Call-off stock - simplification

Uniform simplifications are introduced for the VAT treatment of call-off stock, i.e. arrangements where companies move goods from one Member State to another where they are to be stored before being supplied to a business customer known in advance. Under these rules, the obligation to register can be avoided.

2. Other VAT measures

The Ecofin has also reached an agreement on the following other VAT-subjects.

  • VAT rates for electronic publications

To align VAT rules for electronic and physical publications, the EU Member States will be allowed to apply reduced, super-reduced or even zero VAT rates to electronic publications.

  • VAT fraud - generalised 'reverse charge' mechanism

As a temporary measure, to combat carrousel VAT fraud, EU Member States may apply a ‘reverse charge’ mechanism to supplies of services above a threshold of € 17,500 per transaction. This measure may only be used under strict conditions and if the Council has authorized a request of the relevant EU Member State.

  • VAT fraud - administrative cooperation

EU Member States will improve the exchange and analysis of information shared by tax administrations and law enforcement bodies.