Last February, the European Commission opened a public consultation process as part of its work to create a digital levy in the EU. This is not only in response to the economic and business changes that have been accelerated by the pandemic, but also to bring order to the different initiatives from the Member States. Appropriate taxation for the digital economy, with its ability to break down political boundaries, is a matter of great global interest and a subject that both the G20 and the OECD are also working on.
The EADT has already presented its viewpoint to the Commission, which starts by acknowledging a serious problem: the minimal tax contribution from large non-European technology companies. From our point of view, the most notable challenge for the new tax framework is to compel these gatekeepers to pay the taxes that are really their responsibility in the countries where their end-users are located and where their services are used.
Moreover, we believe it is necessary to introduce into the debate the absence of an economic calculation on the value of personal data that the user gives for free to these big tech companies. Paying with data is also paying, as our campaign ‘You are a digital consumer, you have rights’ emphasizes.
But this new tax framework should not harm the European companies that are called upon to lead the digitalization process and compete with U.S. and Chinese companies. The European digital companies are our partners, and it must be remembered that they create value on European territory, producing R&D, quality employment, etc. Digital taxation in the EU must benefit the companies that believe in a fair, sustainable, and inclusive digital transition in the EU. For example, companies that produce R&D and accelerate the adoption of new technologies, or even those that implement best practices in digital processing of personal data.
In short, we applaud this tax initiative by the European Commission, but with one precaution: The new tax framework must help the development of companies qualified to be the next leaders, European leaders, in the process of global digitalization. To achieve this, the big tech companies must contribute, in fiscal terms, the part that is really their responsibility to pay. They may try to prevent this with their enormous lobbying capacity, but the Commission must stand firm: The EU is a market, that’s true, but it is also a social contract that must be respected.