A swath of changes to corporation tax in the European Commission’s pipeline topped the Taoiseach’s agenda when he met the president of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker officially in Brussels.
New rules that would force every country to make public the tax arrangements with larger companies, including multi nationals is due in March and later in the year the Commission is expected to consider relaunching the stalled common consolidated corporate tax proposal.
They will also consider the the OECD proposals on having companies publish where and how much tax they pay under the plan to tackle base erosion and profit shifting – BEPS.
Ireland is under some pressure at the moment as the European Commission investigates its deal with Apple which came to light during a hearing in the US Congress that accused Ireland of being a tax haven.
Similar agreements in all EU countries with large companies are also under the spotlight, encouraged by the LuxLeaks that exposed hundreds of sweetheart deals with companies, many while Mr Juncker was finance and prime minister of the small duchy.
The Taoiseach said he told Mr Juncker of Ireland’s changes including abolishing the stateless concept and the double Irish and the cooperation on BEPS.
“We want it dealt with openly and transparently as we have nothing to hide in that regard”, he said.
He said that Mr Juncker reassured him that the corporate tax rate was an issue only for national governments.
“President Juncker was very clear as a former prime minister of a small country he understands the challenges a small country faces and he is in a position of influence as President of the Commission”, Mr Kenny said referring to the Commission’s investment plan, from which he said Ireland hopes to benefit.
Asked about his position on Greece looking for a new deal with the eurozone, he said the new Greek government must abide by their debt commitments as Ireland did, otherwise they wouldn’t get further help.
Asked whether he would support Greece looking to make changes to the details of its programme, the Taoiseach said that when Ireland reversed the minimum wage cut they compensated for it.
While Ireland had made great progress the economy was still very fragile. Obliquely referring to the coming general election, he added, “We still have challenges at home and that is why you need political stability for the next 3 to 5 years to finish the mandate that people gave to ensure that the public finances would be properly managed and that the country would get back to work”.
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