EU Commissioner Phil Hogan flatly rejected suggestions that Brussels is trying to exert influence over Ireland’s tax policy through the Euro 19bn Apple tax demand.
Commissioner Hogan said he can understand Ireland’s position on an appeal against the Apple tax ruling – but he denied that the Brussels stance was part of any broader EU tax agenda.
“This is not about taxation rates. It is not about corporate rates (of tax),” he said.
“It is about State aid rules being implemented fairly so we have a level playing pitch for companies.”
He also dismissed suggestions the EU stance on Ireland’s handling of the Apple tax affairs could impact on future investments by multinationals.
“It won’t have any impact, from what I can see, on foreign direct investment because Ireland is well located to take advantage of the huge markets within the EU and people come here for very good reasons.”
The Kilkenny politician emphatically rejected suggestions by some of his former Cabinet colleagues that Brussels had an ulterior motive with the massive Apple tax demand ruling.
“That is not the case. Like I said, this has nothing to do with tax rates or corporate tax rates.”
“It is to do with State aid rules and tax structures that have been established and which the Competition Commissioner has deemed to be illegal.”
“That has now been appealed by Ireland and it is their I right to do so,” he said.
Commissioner Hogan was speaking as he attended the opening of the Cork 2.0 Rural Development conference.
The conference was staged to mark the 20th anniversary of a landmark rural development conference which set out the guidelines of future European policy.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed welcomed Commissioner Hogan to the event – but he dismissed the EU ruling on Apple’s tax affairs as “absurd” and claimed it was a blatant EU attempt to influence Ireland over the low corporate tax rate.
Commissioner Hogan said Brussels and Dublin understands each other’s positions.
“Absolutely, as a member of the European Commissioner it is a bit like being a member of Cabinet. You take collective responsibility for the decisions that are made,” he said.
“The Commissioner has had an investigation going on for over three years, the EU Commission has made a decision and the Government and Apple are now appealing it so it will be a matter for the European Court to decide who is right and who is wrong.”
“The usual thing is that if you don’t accept collective Cabinet responsibility is that you shouldn’t be a member of Cabinet.”
“There were many decisions over the years and there was a lot of difficult discussions in Cabinet and everybody had to come out at the end of the day and defend the decision that was made collectively.”
“That is what has happened in the European Commission.”
Commissioner Hogan said he can fully understand Ireland’s stance on an appeal.
“That is a matter for the Irish Government,” he said.
“They have made that decision and they have good reasons, from what I can see, to have made that decision.”
“That is the process. It is going to be quite expensive and prolonged but the investigation was quite lengthy as well.”
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