When it comes to pleading the cause of the imposition of Internet giants, the European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager knows that she will find a more favorable ground in France than in her own country, Denmark, a four EU Member States to block this project on a European scale. On this day when the National Assembly begins the examination of the text establishing a "tax Gafa" to the French defended by Bruno Le Maire who made it his main political marker, his passage through Paris was therefore nothing accidental.
After a morning passage by the France Inter antenna, the Danish who inspired the series Borgen and who recently confirmed that she was a candidate to succeed Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker at the head of the European Commission had stalled an appointment with the press to say all the good she thinks of the French digital line. "France shows the waygreeted, in English, one who speaks fluent in the language of Molière and spends his holidays in his house on the island of Oléron, on the Atlantic coast. Europe needs a signal and must find a solution to put an end to a situation in which competition is completely distorted. Businesses in other sectors pay twice as much tax in Europe as digital ones, 23% versus 9%. It's a huge gap. "
Having become the figurehead of the anti-monopoly and anti-Gafa struggle in Europe, the most well-known European commissioner has defended his record, stressing that the fight against the aggressive tax optimization of major groups has progressed in recent years in Europe. despite a rule of unanimity in tax matters that "Slows decision-making when it should go very fast". And to highlight the 14 texts passed unanimously in the last five years to combat tax evasion and the fact that all EU Member States now support the action taken by the OECD to find a solution to this problem on a global scale.
But when this "tax lady" as nicknamed the Americans is passing through Paris, she also knows that we will not fail to blame her recent veto the proposed railway merger between the French Alstom and the German Siemens. Before even finding it at the conference entitled "competition in a globalized world" organized by the government in the framework of the French presidency of the G7, the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, qualified this decision "Political and economic error. We must open our eyes and look at the economic realitysaid in his speech the minister. Very few champions have emerged in Europe and it is a European failure to not have been able to create in the industrial sector and more specifically in the digital.
Form of counter-protectionism
The European Commissioner, who spoke at the same conference after meeting Bruno Le Maire, answered him indirectly, gently. "It's all about protecting the competition so markets serve the consumer and not the other way around : to say yes would have meant, with regard to the single European market, less choice for the consumer, more expensive prices and less innovation."Queen Margrethe" as some call it in Brussels also recalled that out of 3,000 merger projects that had been submitted for approval, Europe had only relocated 9 so far. She also pointed out the importance, in agreement with the French position, to quickly reach an essential "reciprocity" in terms of the opening of public markets, which does not exist today with China. In other words, failing to be loyal and open beyond the borders of the EU, Europe would be entitled tomorrow to block access to its markets to companies from countries that do not respect this reciprocity. A form of counter-protectionism, in the words of Margrethe Vestager, has everything to do with a political program.
Asked about his European ambitions, the 50-year-old, whose center-left Liberal Socialist Party (RV) is currently in opposition in Denmark, said he had to worry about projects before thinking about people. "I am obviously very interested and very invested in the future of Europe, did she say. But before deciding which figure will embody the next Commission, we must ask ourselves what we really want to do with Europe. What are we going to do in the next five years, which will be decisive? Where will we find the next jobs? "
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Obviously, the Commissioner who could suffer from the lack of weight of the Liberals in the European Parliament (they are only the fourth group) and knows that the choice of Commissioners among which is chosen the future president of this college belongs to the Member States, chose prudence and avoids, in order to preserve its chances, to offend its government. Last month, when she confirmed to the journalist of the Danish daily Politiken that it was the head of the European executive, the one that will have imposed three ten-digit fines on Google in less than two years had had this expression to describe his strategy to reinstate for a new term in the executive European: "As long as you do not get a quick no, you can expect a slow yes." In this respect, he will also have to convince Emmanuel Macron's France that, until the blocking of the Alstom-Siemens merger, saw in the intractable commissioner from a non-member country of the euro zone the ideal European to succeed to Jean-Claude Juncker.