EU Digital Summit: European leaders discuss digital innovation in Estonia's capital
EU leaders have gathered in Estonia's capital for the Tallinn Digital Summit. The aim of the summit is to serve as a platform for launching high-level discussions on plans for a digital innovation. Can Europe stay ahead of the technological curve and become a global digital leader? Mariam Zaidi has more from Tallinn.
A summit to kickstart Europe's digital revolution into 2025 and beyond. Estonia – which holds the six month EU Council Presidency – believes that digitalization could be as transformative for the EU as the industrial revolution and inject nearly three trillion dollars into the EU economy. But the challenge; could they convince the other EU leaders attending? Research group McKinsey Global estimates that Europe operates on 12 % digitally. The bloc's economy is digitalizing at different speeds and not only between member states but also sector to sector.
JAMES MANYIKA, DIRECTOR MCKINSEY GLOBAL INSTITUTE "Digitized sectors tend to have high productivity growth and up to two times the wage growth of other sectors. Sectors lagging in digitization tend to be the largest in terms of share of GDP and employment and often have low productivity."
But a digital economy goes beyond innovation and technology and for EU countries it also means regulation and taxation. At the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron said 19 out of 28 EU states support for plans to impose more taxes on major internet companies that have businesses in Europe like Google, Amazon and Facebook. Macron said digital companies will remain in countries despite more taxes.
EMMANUEL MACRON FRENCH PRESIDENT "A few people are saying if you tax them they will leave. NO! If we follow the proposal of our financial ministers, we will not be allowed to tax them if they don't do business in our country. But I don't believe internet giants will stop operating in our countries because we take a fair tax on the profits they generate in our countries."
Still, Ireland disagreed with the proposal and said some Nordic countries were opposed as well. Last year, the EU ordered Ireland to collect over 15 billion dollars in back taxes from Apple Inc. The EU said the company profited from a tax system that allowed it to avoid nearly all taxes. But the French President also used the summit to push his proposals for a European renewal. Plans which found favor with Germany and the EU Council. Speaking at the end of the summit, Donald Tusk highlighted plans to unveil an EU reform plan in the coming weeks.
DONALD TUSK EU COUNCIL PRESIDENT "I was mandated to translate this good debate and visionary speeches we have had recently, into a concrete work program. I have already started bilateral consultations."
MARIAM ZAIDI TALLINN "Whether the ideas of this summit will lead to concrete solutions remains to be seen. But one thing this summit has shown is that the EU is thinking deeply about its future. And a digital Europe may serve the bloc well, as it looks to chart its new course post Brexit. Mariam Zaidi, CGTN, Tallinn."