Tampons could finally be exempt from VAT

There is much talk about tampons here in Brussels.

Well at least among the British press and the officials from Downing Street who are accompanying the Prime Minister at this summit.

David Cameron found some time - in what they call the 'margins' of the EU Council - to raise the issue of VAT on sanitary products with the European Commission President.

Current EU rules prevent the UK from reducing the VAT rate on tampons and other sanitary products to below 5 per cent (although normal VAT is levied at 20 per cent).

David Cameron arrives in Brussels Credit: Reuters

Mr Cameron lobbied Jean-Claude Juncker before talks got underway in Brussels on the vexed issue of migration.

Number 10 now says it is "hopeful" that the UK will be granted flexibility on the VAT rate 'in the coming days' - perhaps as soon as next Tuesday or Wednesday.

The issue has been ongoing for some time - after numerous campaigns to reduce the rate to zero on a product no one can claim is a 'luxury item'.

But of course, this issue is feeding into the debate on the EU referendum.

I've just had a chat with UKIP leader Nigel Farage about tampons (as you do) and he is clear: it shows the EU is dictating policy to member states on a issue as basic as the sales tax on tampons.

"We've had to beg" the Commission, he told me in order to do this.

"What better example do we need?" he added, to leave the organisation.

Number 10, however, points out the benefits of being in a single market with 500 million people where some rules are needed to make that market work effectively.

We will know next week whether or not tampons will finally be exempt from VAT.