In her address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg during a debate on the Apple ruling last week, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager reported how Apple had paid only 0.005 per cent tax in 2014, representing €50 of every €1 million in profit made in Ireland.
“If taxes are not being paid by some, then they have to be paid by others, and that is why it is not fair competition when some member states hand out selective tax benefits”, she said.
Green Members of the European Parliament immediately voiced strong support for the European Commissioner’s findings against the Irish Government, with a number of Green MEPs complimenting the Danish commissioner on her "courage" and her "bravery."
In Ireland the importance of the issue was immediately underlined by the Greens, who quickly reacted to the idea of the Government to appeal the European Commission Apple aid ruling. “They say they want to increase business certainty, but in truth we will be stuck in legal arguments for years that only make it less clear where we stand on one of the critical international issues of our time. They say they are defending us from an inappropriate intrusion on our sovereignty, but the reality is that we have been involved in 400 state aid cases over the last fifteen years and there have been over 225 state aid tax cases across Europe over a similar period,” underlined the Irish Green Party.
“Appealing is effectively standing up for close to zero taxation on large multi-nationals. That position is completely indefensible,” added the leader of the Irish Greens, Eamon Ryan. “As a peripheral country in European terms, an important part of our industrial policy must be to attract multinational jobs. However, that strategy must be in compliance with EU law on competition. Multinationals must pay their fair share of tax and that policy must be a sustainable one,” he concluded.
Apart from the Apple case, Ms Vestager is also investigating allegations that Ikea benefited from at least €1 billion in illegal state aid, though, as she clearly explained in an interview few days ago, the investigation is at a very early stage. In this case, it was the Greens in the European Parliament who brought the issue to light earlier this year. In recent interviews, Vestager herself confirmed that the European Commission’s investigations into the furniture giant’s tax activities came as a result of the Greens’ revelations. We will be following this issue closely, so watch this space for further updates!