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Dom Hallas and Nicolas Brien

Dom is executive director of Coadec and Nicolas is director general of France Digitale

A European revenue tax on ‘Big Tech’ could hurt the companies it’s supposed to protect

Close ties between French and British Tech have never been more important. While Brexit discussions continue in Brussels and capitals around Europe, links between startup ecosystems in the UK and France grow stronger every day. Last week, French freelancing startup Crème de la Crème raised a €3m Series A funding round with the expressed purpose of expansion in the UK – just another reminder of a mutually beneficial tech relationship between two giants of European tech.

Yesterday, senior figures from both the UK and France were discussing our role in the future of tech and tackling big questions at the France UK Digital Colloque in Paris. We’re delighted that startups are at the table. France Digitale & Coadec have a shared goal of driving startup innovation in Europe and there’s lots to discuss.

We’ve just seen potentially disastrous copyright proposals voted down by the European Parliament. We’re pleased that a majority of MEPs have recognised the huge challenges these proposals raised and listened to startup concerns – but it’s now critical that as we rethink that the British and French Governments make clear that they stand on the side of fast-growing innovative companies.

There is also the issue of the proposed tax on digital revenues. The existing EU proposals, led by Commissioner Moscovici, would most damage the very companies that both the UK and French governments say they want to help – high-growth tech scaleups who already pay taxes here and rely on reinvesting their revenues to hire, scale and innovate. Tech startup organisations across Europe, including Coadec and France Digitale, are clear that a revenue-based go it alone model is not the answer. If we want European companies to compete with the ‘tech giants’ – this isn’t the way to do it. Instead, we need to work proactively and drive the agenda about global standards towards the kind of international solution that can address the policy question – not just the political one.

And then, there’s the elephant in the room – Brexit. There are still many open questions that will define our relationship moving forward. But data is critical. We are clear there is the need for progress to be made on an adequacy agreement on data as soon as possible. Startups around Europe are on edge waiting for answers.

This week’s conversations are really just the beginning. From AI to blockchain, quantum computing to diversity in tech – there are so many areas where the UK and France can work together to address the big questions tech faces in the coming years. We’re ready to get started.

Dom Hallas is executive director of Coadec and Nicolas Brien is director general of France Digitale