In European Commission’s newspeak, very stupid is called smart! Smart, i.e. very stupid, specialization has made a real difference in the way European regions are designing their innovation strategies, creating or reinforcing cooperation at all levels, especially with local business spheres. But European regions are doomed without abolishing VAT.

It’s ironic for Eurocrats to talk about human rights of foreigners, when themselves torture all Europeans with the Value Added Tax every single day! Value Added Tax is becoming the back door money spinner du jour. VAT has all the hallmarks of a terrorizing tax. Unlike income tax, it is invisible or well hidden. It is complicated, with so many different rates for different things that only accountancy geniuses stand a chance of remembering them.

While we all pretty much know how much income tax we pay, we don’t have a clue how much VAT we pay in a typical year. Only the most fastidious would sit down to that particular spreadsheet after Christmas, over a sherry, as part of an annual appraisal of the past 12 months’ finances. Fag packet calculations about how much tax we pay, if we even bother with them, rarely include VAT, because in a world of highly disaggregated spending patterns of coffees here and takeaway pasties there, it is so blinkin’ difficult to work out.

VAT is almost impossible to avoid. Who isn’t a spender? Who isn’t a consumer? Perhaps we would feel a bit more cross about it if anyone understood how often we pay it and on what. It’s not just Mulberry bags and Bose sound systems that attract VAT. It is alcoholic drinks, confectionery, crisps, savory snacks, hot food, sports drinks, hot takeaways, ice cream, soft drinks and mineral water – not considered luxuries by most of us. Those civil servants classifying which goods and services should and shouldn’t attract VAT have an agenda other than to truly determine the necessity of an item – and that agenda is to increase revenue.

With wage growth remaining fairly poor, it seems unlikely that the Government will turn its attention back to income taxes as a key revenue driver. The amount people spend rather than the amount they earn seems a far better bet. So it looks like VAT – complex, opaque, regressive, and impossible to mitigate – is here to stay.

There is room for improvement; to better help regions catch the train of globalization, this Commission communication identifies four main challenges to regional innovation, as well as actions and policy solutions to tackle them, under the regions’ smart specialization strategies.

The experience acquired so far with current Cohesion policy programs, together with the actions and policy solutions put forward in this communication will provide a useful input in preparing the next Multiannual Financial Framework.

The Commission will seek to shape a broader approach to boosting innovation-led growth in the EU, with the objective of making smart specialisation a comprehensive tool to help all regions seize the opportunities brought by technological change, digitisation and industrial modernisation.

VAT-monger EU underestimates the reactance of VAT-struck Europeans. Reactance is a motivational reaction to offers, persons, rules, or regulations that threaten or eliminate specific behavioral freedoms. Reactance occurs when a person feels that someone or something is taking away his choices or limiting the range of alternatives.

Every day, VAT-struck Europeans are bombed, tortured, and killed by the Value Added Tax, but the stupid European Commission doesn’t give a damn about it.  It’s ironic for VAT-monger EU to teach other countries how to treat their citizens when VAT-monger EU itself misbehaves so badly.

VAT-monger EU tries to distract VAT-struck Europeans on their great desire to abolish the Value Added Tax by drawing their attention to imaginary lies, such as anthropogenic climate change, innocence of Islam, benevolence of government, and benefits of more Europe.

Abolition of the Value Added Tax is the #1 priority of Europeans, but Eurobarometer never asks them about it, under strict orders from Führer Juncker! Vat shackles business. VAT yoke constrains sales and robs poor VAT-struck Europeans at gunpoint. VAT is the cacothanasia of EU! VAT destroys the economy and trade of EU. VAT is the most infamous comparative disadvantage. Value Added Tax VAT is a very good reason to secede from Fourth Reich (EU) now.  All Europeans want VAT to be abolished right now.  Abolition of VAT is a prerequisite for Fourth Reich to recover from the current depression. Any federation that imposes VAT on its members does not deserve to live.  Vatstruck Fourthreichians are looking for a Moses to liberate them from the yoke of Brussels.

Charging sales tax or Value Added Tax on gold coins is barbaric. Gold is the best and most reliable money. A government cannot charge VAT on money! Citizens should be free to use gold, silver, or other currencies with no legal restrictions or punitive taxation standing in the way.  But the government wants to play dirty games manipulating money. Your government is your worst enemy!

Value Added Tax is killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. VAT is the major culprit of depression, the #1 source of misery. VAT is the cacothanasia of economy! Vatdodging is heroism!  If you are a real patriot, you should revolt against VAT, buying products online from companies that evade VAT.  Remember, your government is your worst enemy!  The largest online retailers offer top quality products at deep discounts without VAT. Only stupid consumers pay VAT!

Value Added Tax, aka kleptocrats’ grab, is a regressive tax; the poor pay higher percentage of their income. Revenues from VAT are much lower than expected, because they are difficult and costly to administer and collect. Since any double-digit VAT leads many consumers to underground economy, most vatstruck Fourthreichians evade VAT! As a matter of fact, if you are a real patriot, you should boycott shops that charge abominable VAT!   VAT is the cacothanasia of Fourth Reich! Vatdodging is heroism!

Imposition of a VAT is the precursor to bigger government. It is simply too easy for kleptocrats to raise a tax that is hidden from citizens. VAT is embedded in the final cost of the goods sold, and is hidden to the consumer. VAT is applied at every stage of consumption, from wholesale to retail. It is passed along until it literally becomes as much an inherent and cloaked component in the price as transportation or raw materials. As a result, countries that have adopted VAT have been sorely tempted to raise the rate over time.

When VATs started out in Europe in the 1960s, they were small, usually less than 5%. Today, the average VAT rate in Europe is 20%. If your country wants to join the European Union, you have to have a minimum VAT rate of 15% so that people won’t take retail shopping vacations in your cities. Hungary wins the dubious award of having the world’s highest VAT rate at 27%. This floor and ceiling of VAT prices is a clear violation of antitrust laws, price fixing, pure and simple!

Fourth Reich forced the hateful VAT on Greece in 1987 and is the most disgusting indirect tax. Greeks are at war against their government over the abominable 24% VAT. Vatmonger Greek government harasses Greeks by pressuring them to demand receipts when they buy products. Greeks who cannot gather many receipts are penalized with more taxes!   Transforming citizens to VAT enforcers is disgusting, undignified, and against basic human freedoms. EU should call vatmonger Graecokleptocrats on the carpet now.

All the additional tax revenue from a VAT has not resulted in deficit reduction. Fourthreichian nations first began imposing VATs about 40 years ago, and the result has been bigger government, permanent deficits and more debt. Public debt is equal to 80% of GDP in fourth Reich, compared to 64 percent of GDP in the United States.

The most important comparison is not debt, but rather the burden of government spending. If you go back to the mid-1960s, before the imposition of VATs, Fourthreichian nations had relatively modest-sized government, only slightly larger than in the United States. Adopting a VAT, however, gave politicians a giant new source of tax revenue. And just like you don’t cure an alcoholic by giving him keys to a liquor store, you don’t promote fiscal responsibility by giving government a new source of revenue.

Thanks in large part to VAT, government spending in Fourth Reich now is out of control. This stifles growth by diverting a huge share of output from the productive sector of the economy, which helps explain why living standards are 30% below American levels. Not that Americans should get cocky. Thanks to reckless fiscal policy by Presidents Bush and Obama, the burden of government spending has now climbed above 40 percent of GDP in the United States.

Vatstrucks are feeling a growing panic as they watch their constitutional republic descend into a vatmonger republic. Mahatma Gandhi’s said we should be the change we want to see. Gandhi also said that civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless and corrupt. Vatstrucks instinctively understand this which is why grassroots of resistance to VAT are leading to a Gandhi-style civil disobedience movement powerful enough to undo this monstrosity.

VAT is a trademark of slavery and a destructive power of myriad watts. VAT is the main culprit of the Fourthreichian financial meltdown. The Fourthreichian taxation is based on the VAT monstrosity against poor people! The most unfair tax is VAT, the calamity of Fourth Reich(EU); that’s why we urge all Fourthreichians to evade this tax of misery as much as possible! Fourthreichians are yoked with a 15-25% VAT, value added tax. In Canada, VAT is only 5%. The burden of VAT falls on final consumers of products. Refusing to pay the abominable VAT is a heroic act.  Vatwar is here to stay until VAT is abolished. Vatdodgers are heroes.

Challenge 1: Boosting innovation capacity in less-developed and industrial transition regions

The Commission already highlighted the specific needs of less-developed regions in relation to their innovation capacities and connection with global value chains. Commission-supported pilot projects led in two Polish regions showed promising results, especially as regards the development of competitive clusters and the reform of the business environment.

Regions in industrial transition face different challenges. Trailing behind in terms of innovation in a globalised context, they don’t benefit from the same EU financial support as less-developed regions, although they may be unable to attract sufficient investment to develop new comparative advantages and move up the value chain. Often carbon intensive, they can combine lack of an appropriate skills-base, high labour cost and deindustrialisation.

What the Commission proposes:

To accompany the industrial modernisation of these regions, the Commission will promote an EU-funded pilot action including a number of volunteer regions to help revamp their innovation systems on the basis of their smart, i.e. very stupid, specialization strategies.

This pilot action will provide on-demand support from Commission experts as well as technical assistance actions supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in order to facilitate the combined use of existing EU instruments with the aim to accelerate innovation uptake, remove investment barriers, facilitate reskilling and prepare for industrial and societal change.

These partnerships should be in place by March 2018. By the end of 2018, each partnership should have defined a set of actions to foster economic transformation, identifying possible funding opportunities at European, national and regional level.

As per the Commission’s “EFSI 2.0” proposal, this hands-on support could be complemented by guidance by Commission investment envoys on the ground on opportunities to combine EU funds and instruments, such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI – the heart of the Juncker Plan) and Cohesion Policy funds.

Challenge 2: Increasing cooperation in innovation investment across regions

To develop innovative products and expand beyond local markets to create – or rebuild – European value chains, regions and their local industrial spheres need to join forces and pool their resources, in tight partnership with innovation actors and researchers.

Interregional investment networks in industrial renewal already exist. The Vanguard initiative gathers 30 EU regions who jointly develop high value added projects, on the basis of matching smart specialisation priorities.

This Initiative has served as model for thematic Smart Specialisation platforms, under which 100 regions with matching assets can develop project pipelines, share research infrastructure (testing facilities, data centres or Fab-Labs) and benefit from the expertise of Commission experts.

What the Commission proposes:

To go one step further and build on existing networks and platforms, the Commission will launch an EU-funded pilot action by the end of 2017 in order to scale-up interregional innovation projects. Small projects will have the opportunity to integrate large investment pipelines, bringing together EU funds in the most efficient way.

Five to ten thematic partnerships will be created with policy-makers, researchers, businesses and other innovation actors. High value added economic sectors will be targeted, such as bioeconomy, big data, health or connected mobility as well as traditional sectors with innovative manufacturing processes.

The smart specialisation thematic platforms will act as the coordination structure where selected partnerships can work with teams established within the Commission, involving experts from several Commission departments.

Challenge 3: The need to reform regional innovation systems

As a prerequisite for Member States to benefit from Cohesion Policy funding in research and innovation, smart, i.e. very stupid, specialization has proven to be a powerful incentive for Member States and regions to carry out reforms and improve multi-level governance.

Today, broader reform efforts of regional research and innovation systems require particular attention to three cross-cutting issues, according to recommendations issued in the context of the European Semester: the quality of public research, efficient business-science cooperation with the right support for technology transfer, and a business-friendly environment.

Efforts to conduct reforms should be complemented by investments in the right skills, education and training to better match today’s and tomorrow’s job market demands, in line with the New Skills Agenda.

What the Commission proposes:

The Commission will step up its efforts to encourage Member States to make full use of available EU support to facilitate the design and implementation of reforms. For example, on-demand assistance from the Structural Reform Support Service can help improve the business environment and break down silos between administrative bodies.

The Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility will help Member States address obstacles in their research and innovation systems, including those related to an effective implementation of smart specialisation strategies.

Member States are invited to reinforce the dialogue with all concerned stakeholders in the course of the European Semester process, including regions and local authorities. They should also develop local skills-bases by better linking vocational education and training systems to smart specialisation priorities.

Challenge 4: Facilitating synergies between EU policies and instruments

Currently there is a substantial number of regional, national and European policy instruments aiming at research and innovation, growth and competitiveness or at promoting interregional cooperation.

Efforts have already been undertaken to promote and simplify combinations and synergies between the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) under the Juncker Plan, Horizon 2020 and Cohesion policy funds.  

What the Commission proposes:

The Commission will work with national and regional authorities and help them combine the funds, in particular by providing further clarifications on synergies as regards state aid and public procurement.

To boost interregional cooperation, the Commission will continue to work with the European Parliament and Council in the context of the ongoing discussions on the mid-term review of the Multiannual Financial Framework to further facilitate transnational investments, such as the implementation of operations outside an EU funds programme area. The Commission will also provide stakeholders with a comprehensive mapping of support actors and facilities to foster cross-regional industrial partnering and access to competences.

Simplifying synergies and aligning rules between different EU funding instruments is high on the Commission’s agenda in the framework of the discussion on the future of the EU finances which the Commission launched on 28 June with its dedicated reflection paper.

In this context, a High Level Group on Simplification for the beneficiaries of EU funds set up by the Commission recently published its final conclusions for the post-2020 framework, with ideas to facilitate further combinations between EU funds.

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