Amazon, Apple Face More International Taxes In Europe

Europe’s hail storms hit insurers with $4.7 bln bill

Such as the “data tax” on Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, about to be proposed by France for adoption by the European Union. Apparently, France would like to impose a data transmission tax on those companies — and only those companies — because they are the dominant platforms for Internet usage in Europe just as they are in the US, but they are “non-European,” that is, American. Their dominance therefore prevents European competitors from emerging from obscurity. (How taxing the most popular sites will make other sites more popular with consumers is not clear.) A French member of the European Parliament tells the Wall Street Journal that a data tax should be imposed because the European nations have become “just the puppets of financiers and multinationals.” Or, as Forbes puts it in a now-classic headline: “Gibbering Nonsense From France About Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon.” The tax plan is just one piece of a proposal that would establish a new Internet regulatory agency within the European Union. In part, the agency would be empowered to impose other rules aimed at leveling the playing field for European competitors, such as forcing the American companies to enable portability among devices for digital purchases. French Technology Minister Fleur Pellerin told the Wall Street Journal that the absence of such regulations is effectively “blocking innovation from all of the other actors,” and making it difficult for European companies to emerge. The call for regulation gets real impetus from another issue that has entangled US technology companies in Europe: data privacy. The issue gained a great deal of heat after revelations of the US government’s continuing collection of private data on a massive scale, and with the cooperation of some of its biggest technology companies. The proposals are expected to be presented in late October at a summit of European leaders. At this point, the data transmission tax is the part of the proposal that seems least likely to succeed. For one thing, it’s not clear how such a usage-based tax could be imposed, though Pellerin told the Financial Times that her agency is looking at data transfer, traffic, and interconnection to work out how the big Internet companies make their money and, therefore, what part of their (free) services could be taxed.

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The insurance industry was hit earlier in the year by insured losses estimated at between 3 billion euros and 4 billion euros from flooding in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic following weeks of torrential rain in May and June. According to Willis, a series of storms caused by a meeting of cold Atlantic air with hot and humid weather sitting over central Europe during the summer led to the subsequent “severe hailstorm activity” in France and Germany. Many of the affected areas were battered by hailstones measuring more than 7 cm in diameter. On August 6 a hail stone measuring 11.9 cm was recovered near Stuttgart, Germany, the largest ever to be preserved in Europe, Willis said. Dirk Spenner, managing director at Willis Re said the size of the insured loss reflects both the extreme size of the hail stones and the affluence of the areas affected. “The hail storms hit a number of affluent areas, and so the property that they damaged – such as cars and housing – was worth a considerable amount of money,” he said. @yahoofinance on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook Related Content Chart Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the “Enter symbol/company” at the bottom of this module. You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes. Search for share prices Terms Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE, and NYSEAmex when available. See also delay times for other exchanges . Quotes and other information supplied by independent providers identified on the Yahoo! Finance partner page . Quotes are updated automatically, but will be turned off after 25 minutes of inactivity. Quotes are delayed at least 15 minutes. All information provided “as is” for informational purposes only, not intended for trading purposes or advice.