French composer Jean Michel Jarre has led a group of musicians calling for tax on CDs in Europe to be cut.
Jarre said music was as important as other art forms
Jarre said the refusal to include CDs on a list of EU cultural products that have a lower VAT rate, such as books, amounted to discrimination.
The artist said: "Does Europe think Shakespeare, Umberto Eco, Nietzsche or Victor Hugo are worth 15% more than Beethoven, Edith Piaf or the Beatles?"
Campaigners say lower VAT would encourage fans to buy more music.
Products such as newspapers and theatre tickets also qualify for the lower VAT rates, but the European Commission has refused to include CDs in the same category.
VAT on recorded music starts at 16% in Spain and
Germany, and rises to 25% in Sweden.
'Life and death'
In France, it is levied at 19.6%, and French musicians have pressed for it to be cut to 5.5% - the level added to books.
Jarre said high taxes posed a "life and death situation" to Europe's ailing CD sales.
"We have to respect these new media as we respect old
ones," he said.
Music sales slumped by nearly 11% in the first half
of 2003, partly because of internet piracy, according to he
International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
It said 60% of consumers would buy more CDs if VAT fell.
But Brussels argues that cutting VAT would distort competition. EU finance ministers discussed the issue at a meeting in Luxembourg without resolving it