European Commission refuses to comment on Noonan claims

Minister for Finance says there are no pending state aid cases after Apple tax ruling

Irish tax authorities  are liaising with officials in the European Commission over  procedure for recouping  alleged state aid received by Apple. Photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Irish tax authorities are liaising with officials in the European Commission over procedure for recouping alleged state aid received by Apple. Photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

 

The European Commission has declined to comment on assertions by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan that there are no further pending state aid cases against Ireland.

Mr Noonan told a European Parliament committee hearing on Tuesday that he had been informed by EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager that there were no further cases following the commission’s record ruling against Ireland over its tax arrangements with Apple in August.

A European Commission spokesman said the commission would not comment on the assertions.

The commission has information relating to about 300 so-called tax rulings offered by Irish authorities to companies, which were furnished to the commission’s state aid division following requests for information regarding the Apple inquiry in 2013.

The commission subsequently requested that all member states that issue tax rulings provide a sample of tax rulings to Brussels, though in many cases these numbered around a dozen.

Hearing date

The Government was preparing to launch an appeal against the commission’s ruling at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg before the deadline as set out under state aid procedures.

A hearing date will be set within the next nine to 12 months when it is likely to go to the general court. An opinion is then likely after a further three to six months.

Attorney General Máire Whelan has been preparing the legal grounds for the appeal over recent months, with the Chief State Solicitor’s Office preparing to lodge the appeal before the deadline. Formally, as part of its appeal, the Government will ask the court to annul the European Commission’s ruling.

Responding to the decision by Ireland to appeal against the ruling, a European Commission spokesman said the commission would “defend its position in court”.

Belgium and Luxembourg have launched similar appeals against European Commission state aid rulings over taxation matters.

Mr Noonan reiterated the Government’s position regarding the Apple judgment in his address to the European Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee on Tuesday in Brussels. Stating that the Government “fundamentally disagrees with the European Commission’s analysis”, he said it had “no choice” but to take an appeal to the European courts.

“We don’t believe that Apple owed this money in Ireland at all. We share the OECD view that whatever they owe, they owe to the United States and they paid everything that was due to be paid in Ireland,” he told the committee.

Final figure

Separately, tax authorities in Dublin are liaising with officials in the European Commission’s state aid directorate general in Brussels over the procedure involved in recouping the alleged state aid received by Apple. The Government is obliged to recoup the money by late December.

As with similar state aid cases, it is likely that the €13 billion estimate could be lower as authorities in Dublin apply the commission’s methodology to their own information.

However, in previous cases of this kind, the final figure has also been revised upwards. The Government is expected to lodge the money into an escrow account pending the appeal outcome.