Sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters that a majority of EU member states are against a levy on big tech companies to help cover infrastructure costs. The countries warned that a levy could lead to an investment gap and extra costs being passed on to consumers through higher prices.
The countries that were critical of the levy include Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, and Italy supported the idea and Poland, Portugal, and Romania were neutral.
According to the heads of mobile and broadband networks, big tech companies such as Alphabet and Meta are the main beneficiaries of telecom infrastructure. Therefore, the telecom companies say, it’s only right that big tech faces a levy to help maintain the networks that they rely on.
Naturally, big tech has rejected this idea out of hand, just as they do when it comes to the idea of a third party (the government) regulating them. They argue that they reinvest their revenues into the digital ecosystem which benefits societies and if they have to pay a levy, they won’t have as much to reinvest.
The EU member states voiced their opinions to the EU’s internal market commissioner Thierry Breton in Luxembourg a couple of days ago. He is going to be issuing a report by the end of the month with a summary of the feedback he has received from big tech, telecom providers, and others. He will also outline the next steps that he’ll take.
If the telecom providers do not get their way, it’s likely that we could see mergers such as the one being discussed by Vodafone and Three in the UK. With fewer rivals, telecom providers can charge customers higher prices to help cover the costs of their networks.