The temporary right of European Union (EU) member states to levy reduced rates of VAT on clothing and footwear repair services could become permanent.

The European Commission has proposed governments henceforth always can reduce VAT on such services by up to 5% from their standard rate.

At present, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Greece, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Finland exercise that right for shoe and clothing repairs.

EU taxation Commissioner László Kovács said a nine-year trial showed "no real distortions to the [EU] internal market will occur". He wants "to provide certainty" about reduced rates beyond 2010, when they are due to end.

By Keith Nuthall.