French President Emmanuel Macron met with Facebook co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg at the Élysée Palace in Paris earlier today, having pressed the 34-year-old on the Internet giant's tax practices but also its planned investments in the country. While the politician is presently among the largest European proponents of a digital tax push, he's also seeking to attract new technology investments to France and particularly Paris so as to attempt closing the gap with London, still the technology capital of the political bloc, albeit one the European Union is set to lose following the conclusion of Brexit proceedings.
Macron's office revealed the President is interested in "a frank exchange" with Mr. Zuckerberg and other top executives from the global technology industry in regards to both accountability and business. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi are also said to be attending the gathering. The European Commission recently proposed a digital tax initiative that would see all tech companies pay a three-percent levy and compete more equally with offline businesses. Low-tax countries such as Ireland are opposing the initiative, together with numerous technology firms that are arguing offline-only businesses are a thing of the past and no enterprise can now hope for long-term sustainability without some online presence.
Mr. Zuckerberg's meeting with the French President is part of his global apology tour over the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other privacy issues related to its platform that emerged in recent weeks. The multi-billionaire attended a 90-minute Q&A session with European Parliament members on Tuesday but ended up addressing almost no concrete questions, having instead chosen to repeat a number of Facebook's talking points about doing better to protect the privacy of its users in the future, with the move prompting harsh criticism from the legislators. Mr. Zuckerberg is also set to be interviewed on such topics on the stage of the Viva Technology conference in Paris tomorrow.