On April 10 and 24, the two rounds of the 2022 presidential elections will take place, and in the face of the growing importance of digital issues, the candidates are proclaiming the need to build “French digital sovereignty”.
Despite their animosity and their criticism of Emmanuel Macron, all the candidates defend a common objective and similar measures, an opportunity for Customs Bridge to revisit sometimes unrealistic ambitions.
The issue of digital sovereignty is not new: Since 2017, the outgoing president has been working to strengthen this independence via the securing and regulation of industries and infrastructures, and support for strategic sectors on a European scale. His flagship measure remains the introduction of the “GAFA tax” which tackles two major European issues, that of European taxation and that of American hegemony, increasingly Sino-American, in the digital sector. Faced with the problem of the massive export of European data, in fact mostly subject to the extraterritoriality of U.S. law, the establishment of a label “trusted cloud” to protect data from the subcontinent, has also been established.
Faced with these measures, the Head of State’s opponents have, for once, not skimped on criticism. Everyone is calling for a major relocation of servers to French or European territory, although this is absolutely no guarantee of data retention. Everyone also agrees that the State must be active by investing in the sector and regulating it. However, the measures remain vague, establishing quotas and tightening the conditions for buying out start-ups, criteria that are regulated by Brussels, while rarely defining priority areas.
On the whole, everyone draws up a logical and relevant plan but seems to forget that France is evolving in a world where the outside world is not only a threat but also a partner. Today, even a country’s internal policy is regulated, influenced and decided by the outside world, and the repercussions of certain measures put forward would be dramatic. One only has to look at the response to the “Gafa Tax” promulgated by Donald Trump, which introduced a tax on 2.4 billion French products, pushing the government to give in on the introduction of a tax credit for these same groups if they were to pay too much. In the 21st century, digital technology has a prominent place in the foreign policy of states and it is alarming to note that the candidates reduce the issue to an internal issue of sovereignty in a demagogic and obsolete logic of French power.