Irish government in disarray on Apple tax affair
Ireland’s coalition government failed to agree on Thursday (1 September) on how to handle the European Commission’s €13-billion Apple tax ruling.
Liberal-conservative Fine Gael, the major coalition partner, is determined to contest the EU’s finding that tax arrangements between Dublin and the American tech giant amounted to illegal state aid.
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Prime minister Enda Kenny and finance minister Michael Noonan want to file an appeal in the EU court in Luxembourg, and say that speedy action is needed to protect Ireland’s reputation in the wake of the EU decision.
But the government’s independent ministers have been reluctant to back the appeal.
Fine Gael insists that such a decision should be taken at the cabinet meeting on Friday (2 September) morning.
In coalition talks which have been ongoing since the commission’s decision on Wednesday, Fine Gael conceded to some independent wishes.
It agreed to recall Ireland’s lower house of parliament for a debate on the issue.
MPs will, however, convene after, rather than prior to Friday's cabinet meeting, and would not be able to reverse a legal appeal.
Independent ministers have also requested a wider examination of how Ireland’s corporate tax rules are used by multinationals and strong commitments to achieving meaningful tax justice, in return for their support.
Irish media say the cracks in the coalition may amount to a deadlock.
Ireland has just recovered from six years of austerity following a financial crisis in 2010, under which tax payers bore the brunt of an €85 million bailout.
Meanwhile, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook and EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager engaged in a war of words on Thursday.
Cook said the commission’s decision was ”total political crap”, ”maddening” and lacking basis ”in fact and law”.
The Danish EU official said that her findings were based ”on the facts of the case”.