Belgium and Walloon-Brussels Federation support the principle of a European tax on the services offered by the Web Giants, indicated Thursday the francophone minister in charge of media, Jean-Claude Marcourt (PS). But unlike the French President Emmanuel Macron, who wants the levied amounts to contribute to the European budget, Mr. Marcourt would like a “significant” part be distributed directly to the media sector, he explained to the Parliament Commission.
“I believe that the media sector, which is directly in competition with the digital companies on the advertising revenues market, should receive a significant part of the income which the Web Giants earn through their advertising spaces sale activities,” declared the Minister.
He was questioned by Deputies Christos Doulkeridis (Ecolo) and Nicolas Martin (PS) on his position regarding the tax imposed on the big digital companies which the European Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, advocates.
End of March, the European Commission proposed to temporarily impose onto the major digital companies a 3% tax on their income earned from the sale of advertising and data, for as long as it takes to elaborate a harmonized framework for the States to tax a company’s capital gains where they are made, even if this company is not physically present on the territory.
“The expected profit amounts to 5 billion euros, of which a hundred million could be levied in Belgium,” according to Mr. Marcourt, who praises the European initiative.
The aim of this tax, sometimes called GAFA (acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon), “must be to promote a fair competition between all of the active operators on a same market,’’ he underlined, the reason why he would like it to benefit directly to the media sector, rather than being injected into the innovation and investment European budget, as defended by Emmanuel Macron.
For this to happen, the tax on digital services must yet be unanimously approved by the member States. Luxembourg, Ireland or the Netherlands have already announced their opposition. “The discussions are only just beginning,” added the Minister. “I shall nonetheless challenge the federal to know if we are on the same wavelength as regards to the use of the proceeds” of an eventual tax, he concluded.