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THE WEEK AHEAD

BRUSSELS : European Tax Huddle

February 12, 1991

Taxes will be high on the agenda when the European Community's ministers for Continental affairs meet in Brussels next Monday to push forward with efforts to break down commercial barriers among the 12 EC nations by the end of 1992.

Taxes will be a primary concern. The value-added tax, a European-style sales tax, varies wildly between countries and between different goods in the same countries. Denmark slaps a 50% tax on insurance; across the North Sea, Britain imposes no tax at all.

The EC, observing that the United States manages with slightly different sales taxes in different states, is not aiming for complete equality. But without substantial convergence, some countries' tax systems will give them significant--and unfair--advantages over others in the production and sale of everything from lollipops to life insurance.

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