International News in Brief: Nordic resistance to digital tax for tech giants

In other stories, Denmark increases aid to Syrian war victims and MPs unite to oppose EU proposals to make it easier for EU workers to obtain unemployment benefits

The European Commission’s proposed digital tax on large technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook is facing opposition from a Nordic-led group.

If the plans go ahead, a tax would be levied on the gross income of digital services. This is seen as necessary to prevent companies earning enormous profits by minimising or avoiding tax obligations through moving their headquarters to countries like Ireland and Luxembourg.

An oppressive dominance
The rise of enormous tech-focused companies throughout the 21st century has led to monopolistic market structures in which a select group of firms dominate, leaving little room for competition.

However, a Nordic-led group of finance ministers claims the solution proposed by the EU could damage the European economic climate. Instead, they insist that such a tax must be pursued and implemented at a global level through the OECD, rather than merely within the EU.

Denmark increases Syrian humanitarian support
The Danish Foreign Ministry has committed 675 million kroner to improve conditions for victims of the Syrian civil war. Violent conflict has caused 5.7 million people to seek refuge abroad, and has internally displaced a further 6.2 million citizens. Ulla Tørnæs, minister for development co-operation, is curently attending an international conference on Syria in Brussels to discuss with other leaders how to approach the aftermath of years of destruction. Of the financial contribution pledged by the foreign ministry, 350 million kroner will be spent on direct humanitarian assistance, with the remaining 325 million kroner to fund development efforts within the region.

EU agreement to change Danish unemployment benefits
As it stands, an EU citizen working in Denmark must contribute to a Danish unemployment fund for 3 months before qualifying for access to unemployment benefits. However, an EU agreement would reduce this period to 1 month. To be eligible for the unemployment benefit scheme, immigrants from EU countries must have been working and insured for one year prior to arriving in Denmark. The proposal comes as a part of a broader revision of the EU’s social security regime. Danish MPs have put aside party difference and are united in their opposition to the change. However, their co-operation may be in vain.

Swedish nationalists campaign in Copenhagen
Copenhagen has been chosen by the right-wing nationalist party Alternative for Sweden as the starting point to begin their EU parliamentary campaign this weekend. Gustav Kasselstrand, party chairman, claims that Swedish conference centres often reject their attempts to book a venue to hold their party conferences. Apparently unwelcome in Sweden, they seem to have found better luck in the Danish capital. Immigration is the party’s primary policy concern, with political rhetoric asserting that migrants are to blame for crime, violence and rising social tensions. Despite only winning 0.3% of votes in the Swedish Riksdag elections in 2018, the party is optimistic of its chances of gaining a seat in the European Parliament.