Brian Hayes MEP today (Wednesday) welcomed Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union address in Strasbourg this morning but warned that his proposed changes to the EU voting rules on tax would have detrimental effects for Ireland.
“Jean-Claude Juncker’s final State of the Union address to the European Parliament was full of ambition for a forward looking European Union. His comments on Brexit are very welcome to Ireland, particularly as we face into the dying stages of negotiation on the Withdrawal Agreement and we still have no solution on the border issue.
“However, President Juncker’s comments on changing the EU voting rules on tax matters in the European Council must be blocked at all costs. The European Council currently votes on tax matters by way of unanimity, thus allowing any country big or small to veto an EU tax proposal. Juncker’s suggestion of changing this to qualified majority voting would suit big Member States but would sideline small Member States like Ireland.
“The EU Treaties make it absolutely clear that tax decisions are taken by way of unanimous vote. The only way this can change is by further Treaty change but this is something that Ireland cannot go along with.
“We have big EU tax proposals coming down the tracks such as CCCTB and a new EU digital tax which will threaten the fundamental principles of Ireland’s tax policy. We should be afforded the right to veto these proposals if they are not in our national interest.
“President Juncker has clear views on the future direction of the European Union. Today he set them out as a challenge to MEPs. While I don’t agree with everything he said, particularly on tax issues, he wants to set the European Union on an ambitious path to become a leader on global affairs.
“He wants a stronger euro to challenge the de facto hegemony of the US dollar. And importantly he wants a more ambitious agenda on EU defence policy. I agree with President Juncker’s contention that Europe does not want more militarisation but we do want more security to protect our citizens and jobs.
“In all this however, we must have regard to the democratic balance that must exist whereby Member States cannot be forced to do something that is not in their interest. This must be a forward looking EU that works for both big and small Member States.”