The Council, which represents the 27 EU governments, adopted a position on a major political agenda on 11 May to make Europe a technology leader by 2030.
Alluding to a future charge for the use of telecommunications infrastructure by online platforms, EU capitals argue that “all market players benefiting from the digital transformation” should assume their social responsibilities and “make a fair and proportionate contribution.” at the expense of public goods, services and infrastructure “, shows a document consulted by Politico.
However, EU countries have come under pressure from French officials to explicitly designate the “big platforms” as responsible for the payment of digital infrastructure, which was part of a previous project consulted by Politico.
The quoted source states that the digital policy program does not create a fee, nor does it specify what is considered a fair contribution. The Council will have to negotiate the details with the European Parliament.
However, there is a growing trend for European officials to make foreign online platforms bear part of the burden on expensive infrastructure, which is currently borne by European telecommunications companies such as Orange, Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica.
Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton told French newspaper Les Echos last week that the EU was working on a law for Big Tech to help pay for telecommunications infrastructure, which could be presented before the end of the year.
“There are players who generate a lot of traffic that then allows the business, but who did not really contribute to the activation of this traffic; they did not contribute to the investment in the implementation of connectivity “, said the executive vice-president of the Commission, Margrethe Vestager, on May 5.
Telecommunications companies have been complaining for more than a decade that companies such as YouTube and Netflix are taking advantage of expensive infrastructure, while technology companies say they are contributing indirectly to content consumers’ internet subscription payments. Big companies like Google and Facebook have also increased their investment in submarine internet cables, the world’s digital information pipelines.
As part of the 2030 Digital Policy Agenda, presented in September 2021, the Commission has proposed setting specific targets for EU digitization, including doubling the share of microchip production and ensuring that at least 75% of European companies use cloud, big data and artificial intelligence.
EU countries want all citizens and companies in the EU bloc – from rural Bulgaria to the center of Brussels – to have high-speed internet access at affordable prices by 2030. Cities should also have access to 5G.
Negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament are expected to begin in the coming weeks, after parliamentarians vote on changes to the EU’s digital policy agenda on 17 May.
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