Spain's new culture minister Carmen Calvo has lent herSocialist administration's support to long-held French moves to lower statetaxes on cultural products including DVDs and CDs in a bid to counter piracy.

The French culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, whois spearheading the move, said he was delighted with Spanish support but stillbelieves "that there are many other European countries who could lend us a handin this matter." He also said he hoped this increase in support would provoke aturnaround in those member states opposed to tax cuts and the EuropeanCommission, which fears that VAT cuts will distort the marketplace.

The French and Spanish want to make cultural productsincluding CDs and DVDs more widely affordable in the marketplace and therebystamp out the pirates, but it's not an easy measure for member states toconvince their treasuries. So far only Italy, Greece, Portugal, Belgium andLuxembourg are behind the move. "It will lose us income, but we never thoughtwe'd get rid of this problem cheaply," said Spain's Calvo. Attempts have beenmade at EU level to get the taxes down before, but have always failed in thelight of treasury opposition. Any EU-level move to reduce VAT charges must beagreed unanimously and, as Calvo has found to her frustration, that's no easytask. She has already tried to reduce VAT on books in Spain from 4 to 1 percentbut found making such an exception for a single product runs contrary to EUpolicy, where taxes run between 15 and 25 percent.

France's Donnedieu also wants to institute a system wherebyEuropean movies are premiered day-and-date across the continent.