The European Union's Economic and Financial Affairs Council, which sets economic, taxation, and financial regulation policies for the union, has adopted a new directive on value-added tax (VAT) rates. The update amends prior directive 2006/112/EC.

Going forward, VAT on books and e-books, as well as other goods and services, will be reduced or eliminated in the E.U., with member states now granted the ability to reduce VAT on books and e-books to 0% should they wish. (While VAT has not been outlawed or eliminated, it will not be charged, but governments still have the ability to levy VAT in the future on books and e-books.)

The Federation of European Publishers has praised the move, saying that the new directive, which was announced yesterday and will take effect in the coming days, "represents important news for the book world at a time when rising paper and energy costs are putting the value chain in difficulty." It added: "FEP has always pleaded for books to be taxed at the lowest rate possible due to their intrinsic educational, cultural and social value."