France said Tuesday it is prepared to delay an EU-wide tax on high-tech giants in order to save a proposal that faces opposition from Ireland and Nordic countries.
With the traditional French-German engine of European Union law making sputtering, Bruno Le Maire told a Brussels meeting of his fellow finance ministers that Paris now agreed with Berlin that the tax could be delayed until summer 2020 to give time for global guidelines to be finalised.
"There is no disagreement with Mr Scholz on this. So on implementation we are open", he said.
The change of tack comes after France and the European Commission first advocated a provisional bloc-wide solution until an worldwide scheme is found at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which groups major world economies.
Paris claims the tax would be a vote-winner in next years European Parliament elections, which have been framed as a battleground between pro-EU and Eurosceptic parties. As well as Ireland and the Nordic countries, Germany, which fears a tax on revenues could harm its exports, expressed reservations over the levy.
Given the way that the tax "has been framed as aiming at U.S. companies, of course there will be a reaction from the United States", he warned.
The French government insists that the European Union must agree on a directive by the end of the year to tax large global companies doing business in the digital sphere like Google, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
Some EU member states such as Britain, Spain and Italy are working on national versions of a digital tax, with Singapore and India also planning their own schemes.