Telecommunications Services and the Neutrality of the EU VAT System

On the basis of the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the fairly bizarre case of EGN, the author discusses two aspects of the principle of neutrality which are related to this case, i.e. the right to recover VAT in cross-border scenarios and the system of taxing telecommunications services. Even under the new refund arrangements that entered into force on 1 January 2010, the situation within the European Union as regards the right to recover VAT in cross-border scenarios continues to be short of neutral, and it is impossible to predict when the situation will improve. By contrast, as regards taxation of telecommunications services, it is clear that it will take another four and a half years until the current complex rules are replaced by a new tax regime, which will be, at least theoretically, in compliance with the principle of tax neutrality.