Green light for 0% tax on fruit and vege­tables in EU thanks to Party for the Animals

4 May 2022

EU countries can now zero rate healthy products such as fruit and vegetables. New EU rules enabling this were approved by the European Parliament at the beginning of March. The change came about at the insistence of MEP Anja Hazekamp of the Party for the Animals. "The healthiest and most sustainable food choice should also be the cheapest one. EU countries are now free to use their VAT rules for sustainability," says Hazekamp. Following the principle of 'the polluter pays', the Party for the Animals wants to make environmentally harmful meat production more expensive by levying a 'slaughter tax'.

MEP Anja Hazekamp at the European Parliament.

"The European Parliament's decision is very timely now that prices for many products have gone up so quickly. This is the ideal time to reduce VAT on fruit and vegetables, making these products cheaper for the consumer," says Eva van Esch, MP for the Dutch Party for the Animals. In 2015, the Party for the Animals in the House of Representatives already pushed for a VAT exemption for fruit and vegetables, but European rules were still in the way.

MEP Anja Hazekamp has since repeatedly urged for EU countries having the choice to make healthy and sustainable products cheaper. In the plans for a healthy, sustainable and more animal-friendly food system that she submitted as rapporteur of the European 'Farmer to Fork' strategy, she argued among other things for the removal of the obligation to levy VAT on fruit and vegetables.

Cheaper vegetables, tax on meat

A pig on the way to the slaughterhouse.

Conversely, since its inception, the Party for the Animals has advocated for the introduction of a levy on animal products. "It is absolutely essential that we radically redesign our food system. We are in the midst of a climate and ecological crisis and one of the major causes of these problems is the enormous consumption of meat," said MP Lammert van Raan, who submitted a private members’ bill to tax the slaughter of animals last spring. The WHO and scientists – including the authors of the IPCC's most recent alarming climate report – also point to the role of the livestock industry in climate change and the need to switch to a much more plant-based food system.

With the bill, the Party for the Animals responds to a growing call for meat to be taxed more heavily. Van Raan: "The societal costs of livestock farming (estimated at around €6 billion per year) are being charged to all Dutch people currently, including those who never eat meat."

The damage caused by Dutch meat production and consumption elsewhere in the world has not yet been included in the slaughter tax. The Netherlands is the largest importer of soy for animal feed from Brazil and thus contributes to the disappearance of the rainforest. "With this tax, we only pass on a fifth of Dutch pollution costs, and the costs abroad are not included. But it's a start," says Van Raan. "By taxing the slaughter of animals, we can encourage livestock farmers to switch to smaller-scale, organic farming. And we also encourage consumers to more frequently opt for a plant-based alternative."