Jean Michel Jarre is among a group of musicians calling for the EU to add
CDs to its list of 'cultural products' which would mean music could be
subject to a lower VAT rate like books, newspapers and theatre tickets.
Their campaign is based on the argument that it is unfair to see certain
arts as being 'cultural', but to deprive music from that tag. Jarre told
reporters: "Does Europe think Shakespeare, Umberto Eco, Nietzsche or Victor
Hugo are worth 15% more than Beethoven, Edith Piaf or the Beatles? "We have
to respect these new media as we respect old ones."
Although what constitutes a 'cultural product' and the rate of VAT
accordingly charged varies from country to country, the campaigners believe
a move by the EU would help force individual governments to act, which in
turn would bring down the price of music. The group's research suggests this
would help increase music sales and bolster the struggling music industry.
However Brussels is unlikely to go for the VAT cut because the music
business is so commercial and, despite current financial struggles, is still
relatively rich compared to other cultural industries. That said, when EU
finance ministers discussed the issue at a meeting in Luxembourg this week
no agreement could be reached and the meeting ended without a decision one
way or another.