EU’s Divisive Plan to Tax Facebook, Amazon Returns to Spotlight

EU tax on tech giants looks set to be delayed in defeat for Emmanuel Macron

Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has consistently said he believes that is the right forum for reforming multinational tax.

But such an agreement requires the unanimous support of all member states, and in the absence of that, France and Germany said they were new supporting a significantly less far-reaching plan. These companies have come in for criticism over the taxes they pay in European countries, and France just wants them to pay their fair share.

A compromise is taking shape in the fight over a planned digital tax, with European ministers discussing delaying its launch until 2021, Handelsblatt has learned. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz also said the tax should not be applied until the summer of 2020, and only if no global deal was reached on the same issue.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said before Tuesday's meeting that France is now flexible on the implementation date. "At the same time, we agree today that we will implement a revised Commission proposal on the taxation of digital services if, against our expectations, a broad worldwide consensus can not be reached by summer 2020", Scholtz said.

The change of tack comes after France and the European Commission first advocated a provisional bloc-wide solution until an global scheme is found at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which groups major world economies.

But Ireland, which hosts the European headquarters of several United States tech giants, leads a small group of otherwise mostly Nordic countries that argue the tax will also punish European companies and stoke Washington's anger.

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Paris argues the measure would be a vote-winning accomplishment for mainstream EU politicians ahead of the European Parliament elections next May, in which anti-Brussels populists could do well.

"We can not support the proposed directive ..." "What kind of reaction would we have if this model was imposed on us?" Britain has said it will go it alone with its own digital tax of 2 per cent.

The UK and other countries, such as Spain and Italy, have already promised to implement their own version of the tax.

Adding to the confusion, the legal services of the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, and the Council of member states disagree over the legal basis of the tax.

"It is very hard to see an agreement on the digital tax because so many technical issues are not solved yet", said Danish Finance Minister Kristian Jensen, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union finance ministers.

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