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BACKGROUND European crackdowns on US tech giants

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - The European Commission‘s digital tax proposal comes in the wake of several investigations into the business practices of US-based technology giants.

Here are the biggest cases:


The commission decided in August 2016 that tax benefits granted to the US tech giant by Ireland - where the company has its European headquarters - were illegal under EU state aid rules because they allowed Apple to pay substantially less in taxes than other firms.

The EU called on Ireland to recover up to 13 billion euros (16 billion dollars) in back taxes.


In October, the commission found that Luxembourg had granted illegal tax benefits to the US online retail giant Amazon, ordering the grand duchy to recoup around 250 million euros in back taxes.

Under a special tax structure implemented between 2006 and 2014, most European profits of Amazon were recorded in Luxembourg, but not taxed there, the EU‘s executive found.


The European Union has been probing Google for several years amid concerns that the US internet giant may be illegally hampering competition.

Last year, the commission fined Google a record 2.42 billion euros for abusing its dominance as a search engine by giving illegal advantage to its own shopping service.

It has also accused Google of breaching antitrust rules with its open-source Android operating system, arguing that it has stifled choice and innovation.

The EU executive is further concerned that Google‘s AdSense search advertising function has reduced choice by preventing third-party websites from sourcing search ads from Google‘s competitors.

Other investigations into Google‘s search services are still ongoing.


The ride-sharing service has hit several problems as it has expanded across Europe, with member states mounting legal challenges or introducing new laws hampering its activities.

Late last year, the European Court of Justice ruled that Uber is a transport company, not a digital service, and can therefore be regulated like the taxi industry, which often requires special authorizations.


The commission is working together with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft to remove online hate speech and terrorist content. The four social media giants have signed up to a voluntary code of conduct that is delivering results, according to the EU executive. Google+ and Instagram recently also decided to come on board.

However, Twitter and Facebook are not fully abiding by EU consumer protection standards, the commission warned last month.


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