BRUSSELS, Belgium (EU Commission news) - Hundreds of music artists from across Europe
are calling on the European Union to cut VAT on CDs.
More than 1,200 international stars including Sir Elton John, Chris de Burgh and Andrea Bocelli have signed a petition being presented to the EU in Brussels on Tuesday. They want recorded music to be classed in line with other cultural products such as books, newspapers and theatre tickets - which attract reduced VAT rates.
Belgian pop star Alex Callier and German singer Rolf Zuckowski presented the petition, which has been sent to the 20 European Commissioners.
Callier, from the band Hooverphonic, said: " When someone buys a biography of Jacques Brel in Belgium he pays a VAT rate of 6%, but if he buys a CD of his music he has to pay 21%. "This makes no sense and does not recognise the cultural role of musical artists."
Other European artists involved in the campaign include Johnny Hallyday and Francoise Hardy from France, Zucchero of Italy, Greece's Nana Mouskouri and Spanish singer Julio Iglesias.
The European Commission is currently considering changes to the EU's system of reduced rates as part of a review of VAT directives.
VAT on CDs is set at between 15% and 25%. Rates range from Sweden and Denmark (25%) to Luxembourg (15%), with the UK on 17.5%.
A recent survey for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) found that 60% of people over the age of 16 would buy more CDs if they were made cheaper. It suggested that increased sales would compensate governments for any loss of revenue from a VAT cut within one or two years.
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has reported a 4% slump in UK music sales, the biggest downturn since the launch of CDs in the early 1980s. It blames piracy, including illegal duplication and distribution by international criminals, for the decrease.