Two ministers from Germany and France say that Meta’s withdrawal from the European market will suit them just fine.
The threat by Meta Platforms to quit Europe because of disputes over privacy rules met with aplomb by two top German and French politicians, according to a report in Bloomberg.
“After being hacked I’ve lived without Facebook and Twitter for four years and life has been fantastic,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters at an event alongside French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in Paris on Monday.
“I can confirm that life is very good without Facebook and that we would live very well without Facebook,” Le Maire added. “Digital giants must understand that the European continent will resist and affirm its sovereignty.”
The EU has “so much economic power” they can ignore Meta’s threats
The pair were responding to comments in Meta’s annual report published Thursday. In it the U.S. tech giant threatened to pull Facebook and Instagram from Europe if it is unable to keep transferring user data back to the U.S.
For months, EU regulators have been in negotiations with the U.S. to replace a transatlantic data transfer pact. Thousands of companies relied on that pact, which was called Privacy Shield. But the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) struck down Privacy Shield in 2020. The CJEU said it believed EU citizens’ data wasn’t safe once shipped to the U.S.
Consequently, Meta said it would “likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe.”
The European Union “is such a big internal market with so much economic power that if we act in unity we won’t be intimidated by something like this,” Habeck said.
Meanwhile Le Maire listed ways in which European governments have challenged tech giants, including with privacy rules, taxation and blocking the development of digital currencies.