Apple verdict likely in 2016, says Noonan

European Commission request for further information on tax ruling to delay decision

Michael Noonan and Spain’s Luis de Guindos talking at a euro zone finance ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday.  Photograph: François Lenoir/Reuters

Michael Noonan and Spain’s Luis de Guindos talking at a euro zone finance ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday. Photograph: François Lenoir/Reuters

 

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said he now expects the European Commission to deliver its verdict on its ongoing investigation into Ireland’s tax arrangements with Apple next year due to a request from the commission for further information from Dublin.

As reported in The Irish Times on Saturday, the European Commission has requested further information related to the tax rulings offered by Irish tax authorities to Apple.

“We have had a signal from commissioner Vestager that they want further information prompted by the information we gave them already. It will probably take two weeks or so to put it together . . . so I don’t foresee a decision before Christmas now.”

The commission’s competition division is investigating whether Ireland broke EU state aid rules in relation to two specific tax rulings offered by Irish tax authorities and Apple.

Corporate tax regime

PfizerAllergan

Mr Noonan was speaking at a scheduled eurogroup meeting of euro zone finance ministers which took place despite the terrorist warnings in Brussels and which formally approved the 2016 budgets of euro zone countries, including Ireland.

The commission ruled the Irish budget was “broadly compliant” with European stability and growth pact rules, but queried some expenditure figures, warning there was a risk of “some deviation” from expenditure targets in 2016.

Mr Noonan said the commission has based its assessment on its own expenditure figures, rather than the figures used by Irish authorities. “By using their figures, they thought that we were pressing close to the expenditure ceilings, but if we use our figures, we’re well inside them,” he said.

Terrorism costs

Jeroen Dijsselbloem

Euro zone finance ministers also signed off on a €2 billion disbursement for Greece, after the country was deemed to have implemented an agreed set of milestones. “This is an important step towards addressing the main challenges that the Greek economy is facing and towards restoring it to a sustainable path,” the eurogroup said.