This is the moment an EU commissioner tells Facebook boss Mark Zukcerberg to pay his taxes and not to use tax havens during a live videoconferencing chat.
European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Thierry Breton, 65, was debating with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 36 during a live-streamed debate organised with the CERRE (Centre on Regulation in Europe), a not-for-profit think tank.
The debate was overall cordial, with pleasantries exchanged and an overall easygoing atmosphere, but the underlying message appeared clear: Pay your taxes or we will regulate.
At one point in the debate, which was titled “Towards a post COVID-19 Digital Deal between tech and governments?” and which ran for over an hour, the Frenchman wags his finger at Zuckerberg and says: “Let’s think about taxes.”
Breton adds: “I have been a CEO myself and I always talk to my team, don’t try to be too smart. Pay taxes where you have to pay taxes. Don’t go to a haven. Pay taxes. Don’t be too smart with taxes. It’s an important issue for countries where you operate – so don’t be too smart.
“‘Don’t be too smart’, it may be something that we need to learn in the days to come.”
CERRE posted the footage online where it has already notched up thousands of views and made a splash in French media. CERRE’s caption for the footage reads: “Before the COVID-19 outbreak, online platforms had already significantly changed the ways we work, we interact, we buy and we learn. The crisis has accelerated this trend. In a post-COVID world, the benefits, opportunities and risks generated by online platforms are bigger than ever. How can Europe seize the benefits and opportunities while mitigating the risks?
“As Brussels eagerly awaits the European Commission’s proposals for new rules for the digital age, Thierry Breton and Mark Zuckerberg discussed the role and responsibilities of online platforms during the COVID-19 crisis management and future recovery stage. They debated the possible longer-term impact of the pandemic on the relationship between online platforms and governments, and what future governance and collaboration could look like.”
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