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C 136 E/84 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 8.5.

2001

company’s wholly-owned garage, on which VAT on labour is not paid? Is it the Commission’s view that
this could be contrary to single market rules or any other aspect of EU law?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-2752/00 and E-2832/00
given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(20 October 2000)

When an insurance company sets up its own garage in order to repair its customers’ cars and these repairs
are carried out by employees of this insurance company, these supplies by the employees to the insurance
company are outside the scope of VAT.

Under Article 8(1)(b) of the First Council Directive of 24 July 1973 on the coordination of laws,
regulations and administrative provisions relating to the taking-up and pursuit of the business of direct
insurance other than life assurance (1), services in kind performed by an insurance company using its own
technical means must be restricted to providing the insurance service contracted for. Where such activities
do not arise from obligations under the insurance contract or are performed for a third party other than
the insured, they cannot be carried out by the same legal entity as the insurance activities without
breaching the rule in Article 8(1)(b) which makes insurance a specialised activity.

On the other hand, it is correct that if a garage carries out a similar service for an insurance company, it
will have to invoice VAT on the supply. The garage does, however, have a right to deduct the input VAT it
incurs on all its investments for equipment and spare parts. which the insurance company, being an
exempt taxable person, is unable to do. For the latter, this inability to deduct the input VAT amounts to an
additional cost element that compensates for the fact that the insurance company does not have to pay
VAT on its labour costs when it has cars repaired by its own employees.

The Commission is aware of this situation, which arises from the fact that insurance transactions are
exempted from VAT under Article 13.B.(a) of the Sixth Council Directive 77/388/EEC of 17 May 1977 on
the harmonisation of the laws of the Member States relating to turnover taxes  Common system of value
added tax: uniform basis of assessment (2). The Commission is examining the possibility of moving from
exemption to taxation in the assurance sector but has no immediate plans for action in this area.

However, Article 6(3) of the Sixth VAT Directive already allows Member States, in order to prevent
distortion of competition, to ‘treat as a supply of services for consideration the supply by a taxable person
of a service for the purposes of his undertaking where the value added tax on such a service, had it been
supplied by another taxable person, would not be wholly deductible’. It is, of course, up to the United
Kingdom authorities to judge whether such a scheme is necessary. In order to avoid excessive deviations
among Member States, there must in such cases be prior consultation of the VAT committee.

(1) OJ L 228, 16.8.1973.


(2) OJ L 145, 13.6.1977.

(2001/C 136 E/096) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2756/00


by Alexandros Alavanos (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(1 September 2000)

Subject: Failure to transpose Directive 79/409/EC on the conservation of wild birds

The Commission has decided to deliver a reasoned opinion against Greece for not transposing into its
legislation the provisions of Directive 79/409/EEC (1) on the conservation of wild birds.
8.5.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 136 E/85

Can the Commission set out the legal arguments which show that Greece is not fully implementing the
above directive?

(1) OJ L 103, 25.4.1979, p. 1.

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(10 October 2000)

The Commission has delivered a reasoned opinion to Greece for non-respect of the hunting provisions of
Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds (1). The Commission
considers that Greek hunting legislation infringes the obligation to protect wild birds during their rearing
season and the various stages of reproduction, and, in the case of migratory birds, during the period of
return to rearing grounds. In particular, the Greek legislation allows the hunting season to extend to the
28 February, thereby overlapping with the protected period for 17 bird species included in Annex II of the
Directive.

(1) OJ L 103, 25.4.1979.

(2001/C 136 E/097) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2757/00


by Alexandros Alavanos (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(1 September 2000)

Subject: German compensation for detainees who carried out forced labour in concentration camps

In April 1996 a petition (No 987/97) was lodged with Parliament’s Petitions Committee by 17 Greek
women who during the German occupation had carried out hard labour in concentration camps.

In view of the agreement signed in July 2000 by the German Government undertaking to compensate, by
means of a special fund, 1,5 million elderly individuals who were compelled to carry out hard labour
during the Second World War, can the Commission say:

(a) whether the Greek women who signed the petition and others in similar circumstances are due
compensation by virtue of the above agreement, and

(b) if not, what avenues are available to them to pursue their claims that they suffered treatment similar
to those receiving compensation?

Answer given by Mrs Diamantopoulou on behalf of the Commission

(20 October 2000)

It is not possible for the Commission to say whether the terms and conditions of the agreement mentioned
by the Honourable Member would entitle the Greek women who signed petition No 987/97, or others in
similar circumstances, to compensation. This is a matter for the German government.