Geoghegan-Quinn welcomes tax inquiry
EU investigation into Ireland’s tax regime seen as ‘opportunity to clear the air’
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and Medtronics’ Gerry Kilcommins in Galway. Photograph: Andrew Downes
EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has described the EU’s preliminary investigation into Ireland’s tax regime as an “opportunity to clear the air”.
Speaking in Galway, where she opened a €7.7 million innovation centre for Medtronic, Mrs Quinn said that it was “purely and simply a request for information” on the European Commission’s part.
“There is no formal investigation, there is no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of the Irish government,”Mrs Quinn told reporters.
“I think in fact it’s an opportunity to clear the air about these issues raised in the media concerning these matters,” she said.
‘Nothing to fear’
“I very much welcome what Minister [of State for Finance] Brian Hayes had to say when he was in Vilnius at the informal Ecofin council, when he said that the Government had nothing to fear from any request for information by the European Commission, ” she said.
EU member states should “all work in the same direction” to tackle the issue of tax evasion, EU Commissioner for Taxation Algirdas Semeta said at the meeting last weekend.
Ms Geoghegan-Quinn said that it was “the Irish government which put issues of taxation transparency on the agenda during the presidency of the EU in the last six months”.
“So now there’s a follow through with a request for information and I think it’s an opportunity to clear the air in relation to these matters,” she said.
Ms Geoghegan-Quinn said she didn’t know when this stage of the process would be concluded. “Like any request for any information, you have to wait till you get the information. So that will follow in the normal course of events,”she said.
Apple tax rate
The European Commission’s preliminary investigation follows a US Senate report last May on the tax activities of computer multinational Apple and a claim that it profited from a special two per cent tax rate offered by Ireland.
Opening Medtronic’s innovation centre today, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn paid tribute to Galway’s role in developing the medical technology or “medtech” sector.
About 40 “medtech” small and medium enterprises are located in the western capital with support from NUI Galway, she noted.
“So Galway is not only a place to be for skilled graduates, but is also an international hub for the start-up of medtech companies,”she said. Eight of the world’s top 20 medtech companies have a manufacturing base in Ireland, she noted.
She also said that Medtronic’s objectives were “very much in line with the EU’s research and innovation goals”.