Varadkar: Apple money can’t be used for ‘solving any of our problems’

Commission’s Apple move ‘wholly unnecessary and unwarranted’

Leo Varadkar: “This is money that has to be held in an EU escrow account”

Leo Varadkar: “This is money that has to be held in an EU escrow account”

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described as “wholly unnecessary and unwarranted” the decision by the European Commission to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice over its failure to collect €13 billion in tax from Apple.

Mr Varadkar said in the Dáil that the Government noted the announcement but “we profoundly disagree with the EU” on the operation of State aid rules.

He also told opposition TDs that the money could not be used by the Government for “solving any of our problems or doing anything”.

The Taoiseach said the issue was a matter for the Dáil and not the European Commission. “Even so we are making arrangements to collect the €13 billion from Apple”, he added.

He said the NTMA (National Treasury Management Agency) was in the process of making arrangements to establish and manage the funds in an escrow account. He said the NTMA had put out a tender for fund managers and was making arrangements to establish and manage this account.

Mr Varadkar was responding to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams who had called on the Government to explain its failure to collect the tax. Mr Adams criticised the amount of money the State had spent in legal fees.

“Now we have to pay huge amounts for the court case, the appeal and it’s already cost €3.6 million.”

Mr Adams said “the tax owed by Apple would go a long way to dealing with the emergency in our health system”.

The Taoiseach said there was a budget next week and it was very important to say that “this is not money that could be spent this year or next year solving any of our problems or doing anything”.

Mr Varadkar added: “This is money that has to be held in an EU escrow account until the EU Court of Justice decides who it belongs to, whether it’s Apple, Ireland or other countries.”

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has described the Apple decision as “particularly vindictive”.

“I think it’s extremely regrettable.

“We have been dealing with the Apple judgment and in fact are quite advanced and very close to complying with the requirement to collect and place in an escrow account the €12 billion, and for that reason, I think today’s ruling is particularly vindictive,” he told RTÉ’s News at One.

Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said the action was damaging and aggressive and would encourage other European countries to accuse Ireland of unfair advantage. Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said that the Government had handled the issue badly. The EU decision would necessitate the Government “lawyering up”.

“It could have been avoided”, he added.