Bureaucracy run mad

We constantly bang on about EU bureaucracy in a general sort of way, but I just came across the most extraordinary and egregious example.  I have spent months — literally months — trying to get the parliament authorities to accept and approve contracts for the guys who manage my web-site and blog — and to pay them some money.  I have been back and forth to my Lutterworth accountants again and again, almost weekly for quite a number of weeks, dotting i’s and crossing t’s.
The parliament insisted on having paper invoices hand-carried from the supplier, to the accountant in Lutterworth, then to Brussels.  Are we in the 21st century or the 19th century, I wonder — will it be quill pens next?  We’re dealing here with IT guys, to whom the idea of producing original, hard-copy invoices on a monthly basis is just lunatic.  They want to submit bills electronically, and so they should.  But no.  Brussels won’t accept them.
Then they noticed that the bills were (very good) photocopies.  No good, they said.  Must be original, hand-signed in ink.  And the accountant has to sign a special parliamentary form attesting that he has studied the invoices, and compared them with the contract, and confirms that they are consistent with the contract and with relevant UK law.
After all this to-ing and fro-ing, surely now it was all fixed?  Ah no.  They also want a new letter from the accountant explaining why VAT is not payable.  But hang on — they already have the official parliamentary form, signed by hand in ink by a qualified accountant, saying that the bill is in accordance with UK law.  So the VAT issue is covered.  Isn’t it?  No.  It is not.  I quote verbatim the reply I received from the parliamentary services — because you couldn’t make it up.
“As you rightly point out this explanation is provided already by the paying agent and, admittedly, the requirement might appear as an unnecessary duplication. However, the requirement of explanation on the invoice itself is a direct obligation under Article 226(11) of Directive 2006/112/EC (the “VAT Directive”) which lays down explicitly that in the case of an exemption, a reference to the applicable provision of the VAT Directive, or to the corresponding national provision or any other reference indicating that the supply of goods or services is exempt, is required on the invoice. Accordingly, this is a Community requirement which pertains to the validity of the invoice itself. The requirement for the paying agent´s certification is, in turn, one which arises from Article 41(2) of the Implementing Measures and pertains to the procedure for reimbursement of the relevant costs. As you undoubtedly know, these rules have been decided by the Bureau and the Administration has no alternative than to ensure their implementation. Consequently, both requirements need to be complied with, each for its own reasons”.

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1 Response to Bureaucracy run mad

  1. Steve L says:

    [deleted by editor]. It really is time we left the EU.

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