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Tech giants should pay higher taxes, says EU Commissioner

The EU doesn't need to wait much longer before slapping Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google with a digital tax, Margrethe Vestager says.

Facebook logo with European Union flag are seen in this
Heads up. Digital taxes may be incoming.
SOPA Images/Getty

Heftier taxes for the biggest US tech companies are on the horizon in Europe as top officials mull the introduction of a digital tax.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Monday that Europe should lead the way on introducing a tax (aimed at Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) regardless of whether a global consensus on the issue can be reached.

"We are becoming an increasingly digital world, and it will be a huge problem if we do not find a way to raise (digital) taxes," she told France Inter Radio in an interview. "The best thing is a global solution. But if we want to obtain results in a reasonable period of time, Europe must take the lead,"

Vestager has a reputation in Europe for unapologetically challenging Silicon Valley companies, hitting them with huge fines and getting them to change their practices and policies where they come into conflict with local competition law.

A tax designed to encourage the big four tech companies to pay a bigger share in all the territories where they operate has been a point of discussion for some time in Europe. France is already in the process of introducing its own national digital tax, after becoming impatient with the pace of change within the EU.

A digital tax would be yet another way in which tech giants are starting to come under greater regulatory pressure globally. In a separate move on Monday, the UK government announced plans to introduce an independent regulator to police social media companies. Along with the EU-wide GDPR privacy rules and the potential for a US equivalent, these individual strands of regulation and policy could mark a new era for the governance of big tech worldwide.