‘Enough excuses!’ - France’s Le Maire grows impatient over digital tax

Republic and Luxembourg strongly against levy on online services

“Enough of talking. Enough words. Enough excuses!” Mr Le Maire said in an interview with Public Senat TV. Photograph: Reuters

“Enough of talking. Enough words. Enough excuses!” Mr Le Maire said in an interview with Public Senat TV. Photograph: Reuters

 

Europe has talked long enough about whether to make internet giants such as Google, Apple and Facebook pay more taxes and it is time for a decision, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday.

Mr Le Maire said the blockage was purely political and that all technical questions surrounding how to impose a levy on revenues earned on online services in the European Union had been dealt with.

French president Emmanuel Macron’s government has led a push for firms with significant digital revenues in the European Union to pay more tax at source. The Republic and Luxembourg, both of which have low corporate tax rates, vehemently oppose the proposal, while Germany is far from keen.

“Enough of talking. Enough words. Enough excuses!” Mr Le Maire said in an interview with Public Senat TV. “What’s getting in the way, as always in Europe, is a lack of political will. All the technical issues have been resolved.”

Mr Le Maire has said a small- or medium-sized company in an EU country such as France, Germany or Italy on average pays 14 percentage points more in tax than Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

Online services

The European Commission has proposed that firms with large digital revenues in Europe pay a 3 percent tax on their turnover on their online services in the EU. That would bring in an estimated €5 billion.

Voters would punish mainstream parties in next year’s European elections if the bloc appeared incapable of standing up to corporate giants and protecting citizens, the finance minister said.

“It is time for Europe to decide whether it wants to become a submissive continent...or a sovereign continent,” he said. – Reuters