Apple Inc Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook met Emmanuel Macron in Paris Monday, and according to French officials he didn’t push back against calls by the French president and European allies to change rules in the region to get technology giants to pay more taxes. The two met at the French presidential palace at the request of Cook.
Macron is leading a group of countries – including Germany, Italy and Spain – that are seeking a way to plug the European loopholes that allow some companies to minimize taxes by funneling profits to jurisdictions such as Ireland or the Netherlands. Macron’s office said the two didn’t discuss past tax disputes, but Cook accepted that fiscal laws worldwide are shifting toward making companies pay tax where money is actually earned.
Apple officials in Paris didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Cook also met with the company’s French suppliers and developers during his visit to France. While setting out as a champion for tech companies and flagging his desire to make his country “a startup nation,” Macron and his ministers have been increasingly vocal about companies like Apple, Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Airbnb Inc needing to change their ways.
Macron said last month in Tallinn, Estonia, during a European Union summit, that internet giants don’t contribute to the common good. Meanwhile online retailer Amazon.com last week was slapped with a European Union order to pay 250 million euros ($294 million) plus interest in back taxes to Luxembourg, becoming the latest US giant to run afoul of the bloc’s rules on government subsidies. The EU authority also said it’s suing Ireland for failing to recover a single penny of last year’s record 13 billion-euro bill from Apple.
Monday’s meeting was Macron’s first with an Apple CEO as president. French officials said they also discussed climate change, education, and French economic reforms. Since becoming president in May, Macron’s also met the heads of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Google, Facebook Inc, and Cisco Systems Inc.