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Document 62009CN0094

Case C-94/09: Action brought on 6 March 2009 — Commission of the European Communities v French Republic

OJ C 113, 16.5.2009, p. 25–25 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)



Official Journal of the European Union

C 113/25

Action brought on 6 March 2009 — Commission of the European Communities v French Republic

(Case C-94/09)

2009/C 113/47

Language of the case: French


Applicant: Commission of the European Communities (represented by: M. Alfonso, Agent)

Defendant: French Republic

Form of order sought

Declare that, by not applying a single rate of VAT to all services provided by funeral directors, or to related supplies of goods, the French Republic has failed to fulfil its obligations under Articles 96 to 99(1) of the VAT Directive (1);

Order the French Republic to pay the costs.

Pleas in law and main arguments

By its action, the Commission claims that French tax legislation distorts the functioning of the VAT system to the extent that it applies two VAT rates to services and goods supplied by funeral directors to the families of deceased persons whereas they constitute, in practice, a single complex transaction which should be subject to a single rate of tax.

The applicant complains in particular about the unjustified splitting off by the defendant of the service involving the transportation of the body by a vehicle designed especially for that purpose, for which a reduced VAT rate is applicable, from the other services carried out by funeral directors, such as the use of persons to move the body or the supply of a coffin, which, for their part, are subject to the normal rate of VAT. According to settled case-law, a transaction which comprises a single supply from an economic point of view should not be artificially split, so as not to distort the functioning of the VAT system. In the circumstances, the vast majority of families requesting the undertaking to organise funerals would moreover consider the activities in question as forming the same single supply.

The Commission also contests the defendant’s choice to apply variable reduced rates to the services provided by funeral directors. Article 98(1) of the VAT Directive does not allow a reduced rate to be applied to certain transportation services and a normal rate to other services carried out by the undertakings in question, since that is bound to make the actual rate of tax lower than the normal rate applicable in France. In addition, the level of that reduced tax varies from transaction to transaction according to the relative extent, in each case, of the services provided at a reduced rate, which is also prohibited by the directive.

(1)  Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax (OJ 2006 L 347, p. 1).