HL Deb 01 March 1999 vol 597 c155WA
Lord Shore of Stepney

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 15 February (H. L. Deb., col. 458) on European Union tax harmonisation, whether the United Kingdom has the right of veto on the proposal to increase the rate of VAT on imported art objects from 2.5 to 5 per cent. at the end of June 1999; and whether the United Kingdom would have a veto over the possible droit de suite directive. [HL1135]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The United Kingdom does not have a right of veto on whether the rate of VAT on the importation of certain works of art, antiques and collectors' pieces should increase to 5 per cent. after June 1999. This provision is already EC VAT law, which was agreed by the United Kingdom in 1994 during negotiations on the relevant EC Directive. The Government are keen to secure a change, but the legal position can be changed only with the unanimous agreement of the European Commission and all other member states.

The legal basis of the proposed directive on droit de suite is Article 100a of the EC Treaty. Qualified majority voting therefore applies, and it would be possible for the United Kingdom to block the proposal only with the support of sufficient member states to constitute a blocking minority.