Ireland taxes digital profits from French consumers - Le Maire
Bruno Le Maire addresses thorny subject in a ‘friends can say difficult things’ manner
French finance and economy minister Bruno Le Maire. Photograph: Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire came to Dublin this week offering friendship, particularly in support of Ireland and the wider EU27 position of solidarity on Brexit and the Northern Ireland backstop, but he did not hold back in pushing France’s agenda on the need for changes to how the internet giants are taxed.
The Government wants a go-slow approach on the thorny issue of digital taxation, pushing back on an EU-wide solution proposed by the European Commission in favour of tackling the issue at a global level. France is adopting a go-it-alone approach, introducing its own national digital tax after EU efforts ran aground.
In a speech to the Institute of International and European Affairs, Le Maire addressed the subject in a “friends can say difficult things” manner. Segueing from Brexit to the need to “build a new European project”, he said that changing taxation was a way to create a fairer, more inclusive and sustainable economic model.
“I’m well aware that even mentioning tax systems is a sensitive issue here in Dublin but I am convinced that, among friends, we should discuss all those issues very openly and in a friendly manner. I respect the fact that taxation is above all an issue of national sovereignty, but no country today lives in a hermetic bubble,” he said.
In a follow-up Q&A session, the French minister went a little further. He had no problem with global internet giants (he didn’t name any) setting up European headquarters in Dublin but he had a problem with Ireland profiting through taxes on technology companies making money from “65 million French consumers”.
“They are making profits with the 65 million French consumers and then the profits are not taxed in France but in Ireland. You have the French data and then you have the Irish benefits. I think that everybody can understand that it might be a problem for us,” he said.