EU commissioner to defend tax ruling against Ireland

Margrethe Vestager to discuss finding that Ireland granted €13bn in state aid to Apple

European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager: Will address MEPs this afternoon in Strasbourg on her recent state aid ruling against Ireland

European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager: Will address MEPs this afternoon in Strasbourg on her recent state aid ruling against Ireland

 

European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager will address MEPs this afternoon in Strasbourg on her recent state aid ruling against Ireland, as Jean-Claude Juncker vowed to continue the European Commission’s clampdown on tax evasion.

In his hour-long annual “State of the Union” speech on Wednesday morning, Mr Juncker said that “a fair playing field means that in Europe consumers are protected from cartels and abuses by powerful companies, and that every company no matter how big and fall have to pay its taxes where it makes its profits.”

Mr Juncker strayed from his published speech by not mentioning the Apple case directly in the chamber.

But he did say: “I promised that my commission would fight against tax evasion and many of you didn’t believe me but that is what we are doing. This commission is delivering in the fight against taxation.”

Questions

Ms Vestager will face questions by Irish and other MEPs this afternoon following calls for a debate on the Apple judgment to be added to the European Parliament’s plenary session this month.

Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy and Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly are among the MEPs scheduled to question the commissioner during the hearing.

Among the issues of contention that has emerged from the Apple judgment is an indication from a number of member states, including Spain, Austria and France, that they may pursue Apple for unpaid taxes due on activity conducted in their own country. In announcing her adverse finding against Ireland on August 30th, Ms Vestager said that other EU member states might be entitled to some of the €13 billion which Ireland has been ordered to recoup from Apple.

Aid

According to a spokesman for commissioner Ms Vestager, the question of member states’ entitlement to the recovered state aid is a matter for national governments and not the EU’s competition division. Officials say that tax authorities in member states are free to request information from Apple and from the Irish tax authorities over the Apple judgment, though it is likely that any requests for information will take place after the full version of the commission’s decision is published.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble played down expectations that Germany would recoup some of the money due to Ireland from Apple.

“I think the expectations being built up are somewhat premature,” he said, adding that it would be an “unusually complicated process that will drag on”.