French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday he would invite Internet business leaders to an end-May G8 summit to discuss regulation of the Web and he called for more scope for governments to tax Internet firms.
Regulation of the Internet is one of the main topics of a May 26-27 meeting of G8 leaders to be held in the coastal resort of Deauville in northern France, which will also discuss economic aid to North African countries in the wake of this year's political upheavals.
"Ahead of the Deauville summit, on May 24-25, we will gather in Paris eminent representatives of the world of the Internet, who will participate in a G8 Forum to aid the discussions by heads of state and government," Sarkozy said, adding he would ask some of the business leaders to attend the summit itself.
Sarkozy's government signed an official decree Wednesday creating the National Digital Council (CNN), composed of 18 members, to advise the French government on Internet issues.
Launching the new body, Sarkozy said he wanted to discuss the issue of "digital taxation" of major Internet companies, like Google.
Sarkozy said it was not normal that Internet companies conducted massive business in countries like France -- where the state helped to finance telecoms infrastructure -- but relocated "all of their taxation with the sole aim of maximizing tax efficiency."
"Between that and a level of taxation which would penalize the creation of new Internet companies...between nothing and excess, can we not find a compromise?" Sarkozy asked.
(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)