"To improve the accessibility of food prices, Member States can also apply reduced VAT rates and encourage economic operators to contain retail prices", recommended the EC.

In a reply sent to Lusa last Friday, an official source from the European Commission explained that, “under the current rules governing VAT rates, Member States may, in general, apply a standard rate to all goods and services that must be higher than 15%”, and, in situations such as crises, “choose to apply a maximum of two reduced rates at different levels, but as low as 5%”.

In Portugal, reduced VAT rates are 6% on the mainland (compared to 23% normal and 13% intermediate), 5% in Madeira and 4% in the Azores. Among the goods already covered by the reduced rate are food products such as cereals, meat, fish, dairy products, olive oil, salt, vegetables and fruit.