THE HAGUE: EU proposals for a digital tax targeting US tech giants could reap rewards for the block and help overcome the hole left by Britain's departure, French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday.
Such a tax could bring in "half of the financial needs" after Brexit, he told reporters in The Hague citing European Commission figures and adding there may be no need to boost members' contributions.
On the eve of a two-day EU summit, Macron paid a whirlwind visit to the Netherlands seeking to win over Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who remains sceptical of the French plans for eurozone reform.
The two men held "long head-to-head" talks, with Rutte insisting again that the Netherlands -- already one of the biggest contributors to the bloc's budget -- should not have to pay more.
On Wednesday EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici presented his proposals in Brussels aimed at recovering billions of euros from mainly US multinationals, such as Facebook and Google, that shift earnings around Europe to pay lower tax rates.
During the Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday, Macron will urge European leaders to back his vision for eurozone reforms, including setting up a crisis fund for nations in trouble.
Paris is hoping a roadmap can be drawn up at the next summit in June, ahead of European parliamentary elections next year.
But Rutte stressed in an interview with the French daily Le Monde that it was up to individual nations to "put their economies in order," control their budgets and slash deficits.
"Any extra contributions should be avoided," Rutte said, insisting the priority should be on things such as innovation, monitoring the EU's external borders and handling the migrant issue.
Before being received by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Macron first visited the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) based in The Hague.
The visit comes amid "the Syrian crisis and the Salisbury attack," French officials said.
OPCW arms experts arrived in Britain on Monday to help investigations into the poisoning of a former Russian spy, who remains in hospital after allegedly being exposed to a nerve agent in Salisbury earlier this month.