The Commission must stop targeting small Member States and US multinationals based in the EU – Hayes
Following the announcement of the European Commission’s decision that Ireland provided illegal state aid to Apple, Brian Hayes MEP, and member of the European Parliament’s ECON Committee, said that the government must defend our taxation system and how it is applied by the Revenue Commissioners.
“A decision will have to be taken by government about whether or not to appeal the decision to the European Court of Justice. In my view the EU Commission has overstepped its role and mandate; the ultimate decision in this case must be taken by the ECJ. It’s in Ireland’s long term interest that the government appeals this.
“The figure of €13 billion shows just how politically motivated this decision was. This was a clear statement that the Commission wanted to hit US multinationals hard with this announcement.
“Our taxation system must be defended if it is to remain credible. It cannot and should not be targeted for reasons of anti-American bias.
“Ireland’s corporate tax system is statute based, it does not operate on the basis of special deals. The credibility of Ireland’s business environment is on the line here. What is also at stake is our future ability to attract FDI into the country with a taxation system that is certain, clear and based on Irish law.
“It is important to realise that the Revenue Commissioners delivered these advance opinions in 1991 and 2007 independently of government. Revenue is completely independent of political control when it comes to collecting taxation. Revenue’s job is to ensure that rules are followed and that the correct amount of tax is paid – nothing more nothing less.
“The Commission has in the past made serious mistakes. In 2011, the Commission ruled against Spain for a tax regime which was alleged to have favoured a certain few companies, including Santander. In 2014 the Court of Justice overturned the Commission’s decision and ultimately the Spanish government did not have to recover the so-called ‘illegal state aid’. Also, the recent Commission state aid decisions on Netherlands (Starbucks), Luxembourg (Fiat/Chrysler) and Belgium have all been appealed.
“There are serious allegations that the Commission is using an expansive definition as to what constitutes ‘state aid’ in order to encroach on Member State tax sovereignty. There are also allegations that the Commission has adopted a new approach on state aid and is departing from prior ECJ case law. These allegations need to be tested in an independent court of law. This is another justification why Ireland should appeal.
“Apple is not a brass plated entity in Ireland. It is a big employer providing over 4,000 jobs for many Irish families. It pays all tax on Irish activities in Ireland. We must remember that its CEO Tim Cook has already confirmed that Apple will continue to operate in Ireland regardless of the decision and will even expand its operations.”