After MEPs shelved a debate on the 'tampon tax' UKIP MEPs are highlighting the hypocrisy of the EU in refusing to allow tampons to be 'zero rated' in Strasbourg today. UKIP MEP Jane Collins asked the Parliament to debate why VAT is levied on sanitary products, pointing out that in its own legislation it is illegal to discriminate against people based on their gender. But the committee of senior MEPs and civil servants refused to allow it to be discussed despite regularly calling for legislation on equality for women.
"MEPs are clearly terrified that if British women realise the fact they pay tax on essential items like tampons is because of an EU directive it will encourage more of them to vote to leave," said Mrs Collins.
"We've seen MPs debating this issue in Westminster, voting for someone to 'have a chat' to Brussels about possibly doing something to get rid of VAT on tampons but to no avail: once an item has VAT levied on it then it won't become zero-rated."
The Yorkshire MEP and her female colleagues Margot Parker and Louise Bours put the question forward having found a clause in the EU's 'Gender Equality Law'.
'Given that sanitary products are needed exclusively by women as part of their biological make-up, how can the decision to charge 5 % VAT on tampons not contravene EU gender equality law?' they asked.
They point out that the legislation, which would have been approved by MEPs, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers, says that discrimination outside the labour market also needed to be eradicated.
"We'll spend the day today being told how much the EU does for women," said Mrs Parker, "Just like they spend years calling for equality for women in the workplace by imposing patronising quotas, then allow thousands of migrants who have no respect for women to enter the EU and wander freely, harassing and sadly sometimes raping women.
"If they really practised what they preached they wouldn't hide from having this debate. Clean, tax free sanitary products should be tax free and available to women across the globe. Let's hear the Commission tell us that on International Women's Day they will stop being so hypocritical," Mrs Collins added.
Text of the oral question for debate submitted by Jane Collins, Louise Bours and Margot Parker was as follows:
'Given that sanitary products are needed exclusively by women as part of their biological make-up, how can the decision to charge 5 % VAT on tampons not contravene EU gender equality law, in particular Council Directive 2004/113/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services? As stated in point 3.10 of the report entitled ‘EU Gender Equality Law, Update 2013’: