Commission may examine 300 more Irish tax rulings

Margrethe Vestager defends Apple ruling as State intensifies discussions with Brussels

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan with EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager at a European Union finance ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg in 2012. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan with EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager at a European Union finance ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg in 2012. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

 

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has refused to rule out further state-aid investigations into Ireland’s tax arrangements with multinationals, as the Government intensifies discussions with Brussels about the tax it must reclaim from computer giant Apple.

In an interview with The Irish Times, the Danish commissioner said her staff were assessing about 1,000 tax rulings from across Europe, up to 300 of which are understood to be from Irish tax authorities.

Ms Vestager defended her record Apple ruling, saying it was “fact-based”. She said the commission was well aware of the forthcoming appeal by the Government and was “very prepared” for the case.

The Attorney General is preparing an appeal to the European Court of Justice of the EU Commission’s finding that Apple benefited from up to €13 billion in illegal state aid. It is expected to be filed within the next three weeks.

Final figure

It is understood that the Revenue Commissioners have stepped up engagement with commission officials in Brussels in recent weeks over the final figure it must reclaim from Apple ahead of a deadline next week.

Under EU rules, the Government must outline to the commission how it intends to recoup the money within two months of the decision, with the alleged unpaid tax to be paid by the end of the year.

While the commission has estimated that the bill could be up to €13 billion plus interest, some analysts suggest that the final figure could be closer to €11 billion.

Efforts to meet next week’s deadline are taking place as the commission prepares to relaunch its controversial common corporate tax base next week, the latest stage in the EU’s clampdown on tax avoidance.

As EU leaders gathered in Brussels yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny briefly met Theresa May on the margins of the summit. In her first visit to Brussels as British prime minister, Ms May was under pressure to reassure leaders about her approach to Britain leaving the EU, after she appeared to back a “hard Brexit” in a speech to the Conservative Party conference.

Mr Kenny also met commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss Irish concerns regarding Brexit.