Behind the scenes: what was discussed in Tallinn

A competition of ideas to reform the European Union had broken out on the eve of the digital summit. No one doubts the need for reform – we have Brexit, migrants, terrorist attacks, Catalonia, and what is paramount: 28 is obviously too great a number when it describes different budgets, markets, and all manner of regulations of a single union.

However, there is another multi-billion-euro problem that goes far beyond Europe’s borders and where Estonia’s years of work have begun to pay off. It is possible we have a functional upgrade for the entire world. Estonia’s EU presidency has achieved a situation where no press conference following the Tallinn Digital Summit could glance over the question of how to tax companies in countries where they lack a physical presence - writes Aivar Pau in

The topic proposed by Estonians became the hit of the summit no European leader could afford to skip.

French President Emmanuel Macron dedicated a full 30 minutes to the topic during his post-summit briefing at the Culture Cauldron. “Digital development has set about changing our economy, and if we want to be successful in the digital battle, we need to change completely and invest in the field,” he said.

However, at the expense of what should these investments be made, and is the market situation the same for everyone? In addition to creating a common digital market and doing away with 28 sets of different regulations, it is impossible to overlook the fact that the global leaders of the digital realm, like Google, operate outside rules in Europe, Macron said.

“We need justice on the global scale. When it comes to taxation, location of companies should not matter; instead we should look at where value is created,” Macron said. The president added that he is confident tech giants would not go anywhere were Europe to tax their activity.

President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani echoed Macron when he took what could be described as an even more emotional tone. “We cannot accept a situation where internet platforms have no rules. Platforms that avoid paying taxes and do not create jobs, and the taxes paid by which go outside the EU undermine our growth, our tourism sector,” Tajani said.

Tajani mentioned effect on the tourism sector – a clear reference to Airbnb. “Profits made in Europe must be taxed in Europe,” he added.

Prime minister of Ireland took a diametrically different opinion when he said before the summit that more taxes and regulations would not be the way to go if Europe wants faster innovation and to be the world’s digital leader.

“We do not have a European Google or Facebook – if we want to have them one day, high taxes and regulation cannot be a solution,” the PM said.

However, Ireland is too late. Official proposals have been drawn up and sent out by Estonia, the European Commission, and four major EU countries – the question is no longer whether anything will change, rather it is how to do it.

Read other Estonian news here.

If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
2 views in november
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

More than half of all Estonian residents support as liberal an alcohol policy as possible or one with few restrictions (54% in all), while another third favour more stringent restrictions, according to the alcohol yearbook, titled "Market, consumption and damages of alcohol in Estonia," introduced at a National Institute for Health Development (NIHD) conference on Tuesday. According to a poll conducted by the Estonian Institute of Economic Research (EKI),...
Trying to keep on top of the movements of the political parties in Estonia can be a bit like herding the proverbial cats at times, particularly now we're in election season. From an "anglophone"* perspective, there are plenty of parties — around nine in all, three in government, three in opposition and three more potentially winning a few seats in March. This compares with three and a half parties in Britain (UKIP is the "half"), outside of Northern Irelan...
The opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia has in large part decided its top candidates for the March 2019 Riigikogu elections, to be officially confirmed by the party board on Friday. EKRE's top candidate for Harju and Rapla Counties, Estonia's largest electoral district, will be MP Henn Põlluaas. Party chairman Mart Helme, meanwhile, will run in the number one spot in Pärnu County. Monika Helme will top the party's election list in Lääne, Saar...
Hot on the heels of the Social Democratic (SDE) and Reform parties announcing their primary candidates in each of the 12 electoral districts at the March 2019 general election, ruling coaltion majority party Centre has done the same. Centre, from whose ranks Prime Minister Jüri Ratas comes, will run the latter in Harju and Rapla counties, with three current ministers, one MEP and the deputy head of the Riigikogu joining him as front-runners in other distri...
Prosecutor General Lavly Perling will present an overview of requests for legal help, originating from the Russian Federation, to the Riigikogu on Tuesday. Letters from Russian authorities in 2012 and 2014 reportedly made clear reference to money laundering activity and requested witness input. According to business daily Äripäev, Ms Perling confirmed the letters contained direct reference to money laundering but were confidential and their contents not or...
Coalition partner the Social Democratic party (SDE) has announced its top riders for the March 2019 elections in Estonia's 12 electoral districts, though its full list will be confirmed in December, the party says. There are no real surprises on a well-stocked list which includes the recently-attracted Indrek Tarad, currently still an independent MEP. Mr Tarand, whilst standing for SDE, has not as yet become a party member. Since the system in Estonia is a...
According to Statistics Estonia, the change of the consumer price index in October 2018 was 0.5% compared to September and 4.4% compared to October of the previous year. Goods were 3.7% and services 5.7% more expensive compared to October 2017, while regulated prices of goods and services increased by 9.1%, and non-regulated prices by 3.1%. Compared to October 2017, the consumer price index was affected the most by transport, which contributed nearly a thi...
The Ministry of Culture has rejected the request of English-language web magazine Estonian World (EW) for support from the state to to the tune of €5,000 for the remainder of 2018. The ministry has, however, promised to seek opportunities for supporting the portal in 2019. "Unfortunately, the support to this extent of English-language Estonian media outlets is not provided for in the agenda and budget of the government-approved Compatriots Programme for th...
Last Wednesday, Theatre NO99 abruptly announced that it would be closing its doors, with its final performances scheduled for November and December. The theatre will be vacating a large building at the Central Tallinn address of Sakala 3, interest in which has been expressed by Sakala Skene, a new open centre for the performing arts and theatre education. Sakala Skene is a new brand uniting Polygon Theatre and Polygon Threatre School, Old Baskin's Theatre,...