Hudghton (Greens/EFA), rapporteur - Mr President, in accordance with the Rules, I had asked to make a comment about this report, and I am sorry I was not called before the vote. I rise not because this is a controversial report for this Parliament – on the contrary, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs adopted it overwhelmingly; and I am glad that Parliament has done so too, because it is about fairness and ensuring equality of opportunity between all 25 Member States. All this report does is to permit the 10 new Member States to take advantage of an experimental scheme for applying reduced rates of VAT to labour-intensive services, which 9 of the previous 15 had been doing since 1999. The scheme was unexpectedly carried forward and therefore was not included in the enlargement negotiations. I am very pleased that this vote has carried today. However, this is a controversial matter in the Council. Indeed, unanimity is required even for this report to be implemented by the Council. I regret to say that my own Member State, the UK, is one of those which has 'reservations' about this; and some members of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs feared that perhaps the UK or others might torpedo this report. But, more than that, this Parliament has, since the start of the experiment, wholeheartedly supported the principle. I hope that this vote today will encourage the Council to ensure fairness across all 25 Member States for the remaining time of the current experiment; and I also say, with the full support of the chairman of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, Mrs Berès, that we should be pressing the Council to make this a permanent feature of our hopes of achieving the Lisbon Strategy. I hope Parliament will support that.

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