Brussels Edition: Taxing Tech Giants

(Bloomberg) -- Welcome to the Brussels Edition, Bloomberg’s daily briefing on what matters most in the heart of the European Union.

The good news for tech giants is that EU government envoys meeting in Brussels today will probably continue to disagree over the principle, scope, threshold and start of a proposed levy on their European sales, putting to rest a continent-wide digital tax for now. The bad news for them is that a number of big European markets  including France, Spain, Italy and the U.K. — have already announced plans to go it alone and force the likes of Google and Facebook to contribute more to public coffers. The bill is on its way. 

What’s Happening

Women's March | Women and girls across Belgium are going on strike from work and school to join a protest on International Women’s Day. The movement is calling for a full-day occupation of one of Brussels’ main train stations before a march through the capital city. Over in Berlin, the day has been declared a new annual public holiday. Meanwhile, women are still woefully underrepresented at the world’s central banks.

Brexit Week | It's crunch time for Theresa May (again) next week, as the U.K. leader takes her Brexit deal back to parliament. After a round of ill-tempered talks with May’s attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, the EU made a new offer in a bid to break the Brexit impasse, though it falls short of what Britain has demanded, people familiar with the EU side of the negotiations said late yesterday.

Euro Budget | Euro-area finance ministers will gather next week to discuss how best to spend money from a joint budget they've agreed to set up for the bloc. While there is broad consensus to create such a fund, disagreements persist on whether it should be used to support economies in a downturn.

Trade Talks |  President Donald Trump needs to to stop imposing tariffs on the bloc if he wants a partner to help the U.S. pressure China, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in an interview with Bloomberg late yesterday.

In Case You Missed It

Blocked Blacklist | EU governments unanimously rejected a list of foreign jurisdictions posing higher risks of money laundering, criticizing officials in Brussels for drawing up the document in a flawed manner. The back-and-forth over the measure comes as European banks are being rocked by revelations that they played a part in channeling dubious funds from Russia to the West.

More Stimulus | The ECB delivered a fresh round of monetary stimulus in a bid to shore up the weakening economy, cutting its growth forecast by the most since the beginning of the quantitative-easing program. The ECB is reverting to more monetary support just three months after policy makers decided to end their bond-buying program and hoped to start weaning the euro-area economy off crisis-era stimulus.

Orban Calls | Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is calling fellow members in the EU Christian Democrats to find a way to salvage his party’s membership in the bloc’s biggest political family, according to the minister in charge of his office. Orban’s efforts come after he was told to end his anti-EU campaign and apologize in order to avoid expulsion from the bloc’s biggest political alliance.

German Bill | The U.S. administration is drawing up demands that Germany, Japan and eventually any other country hosting U.S. troops pay the full price of American soldiers deployed on their soil — plus 50 percent. Wealthy nations hosting American forces could be asked to pay five to six times as much as they do now.

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: Taxing Tech Giants

Italy’s women are lagging the rest of Europe when it comes to economic activity, resulting in the nation missing out on billions of euros each year. The proportion of working-age women participating in the labor market is the lowest in the region. Less than half of Italian women are employed, and raising that level to match the euro-area average of 62.3 percent could boost gross domestic product by 88 billion euros.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • EU justice ministers meet in Brussels to discuss European border regulation, reform of the common European asylum system, migration, the EU’s response to terrorism and countering disinformation
  • EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager is in Copenhagen to participate in presentation by advisory group to the Danish government on artificial intelligence; also takes part in on-stage discussion on the future of Europe

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