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EU lawmakers unfazed by Meta's threat that it would pull out of Europe

Credit: Alexandre Lallemand/Unsplash

Meta said that it may have to shut down Facebook and Instagram in Europe over data privacy rules — and at least two European politicians think that's a good idea.

European regulators are currently working on new legislation that would place restrictions on how EU citizen data gets transferred to the U.S. As a result, Meta issued a veiled threat to pull its social media platforms in Europe during its annual report on Thursday, CNBC has reported.

Two EU politicians, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, said that Europe would do just fine without Facebook and Instagram, according to Bloomberg.

"After being hacked I've lived without Facebook and Twitter for four years and life has been fantastic," said Habeck at an event 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 said. "Digital giants must understand that the European continent will resist and affirm its sovereignty."

The pair made the comments in response to Meta's threat. Specifically, Meta wrote that if it can't use existing agreements to shift data back to the U.S., it would "likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services ... in Europe."

Habeck said that the European Union was "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."

A Meta spokesperson, however, told CNBC that the company doesn't currently want or have plans to withdraw from the European market. The spokesperson added that Meta has raised similar data privacy concerns in previous filings.

However, they added that Meta and other companies "rely on data transfers between the EU and the U.S. in order to operate global services."

If the EU regulations preventing data transfer to the U.S. go through, Meta in its annual report said that the change would "materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations."