My Contribution to the Dail Debate on Government Appeal of European Commission Decision on Apple: Motion

September 7th, 2016 - Pat Breen

Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Pat Breen):

I fully endorse everything the Taoiseach and the Minister, Deputy Noonan, said here earlier today. We cannot and do not accept the ruling of the Commission or the warped logic that underpins it. We must make it clear that Ireland did nothing wrong and that we have not provided special tax arrangements to anyone.
We must make no apology for competing fairly and within the rules for foreign direct investment. Imaginary sweetheart tax deals have nothing to do with the long-standing presence of Apple in Ireland, nor any of the other hundreds of successful multinational companies that have made Ireland their home. These businesses invest in Ireland because of our determined and talented people, our improving infrastructure, our first-rate education system and our continued membership of the EU. They also invest here because of our reputation as a country that fosters entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity. Of course, our competitive rate of corporation tax is also an important factor but it is only a single piece of a much larger puzzle.

We have worked hard, over many generations of public policy-making in this country, to put all of these conditions in place. This required patience, commitment and focus across many decades. We should be proud of that track record and what we have achieved, working together, to attract high-quality foreign direct investment to our shores.

That is why I find the recent European Commission ruling particularly disappointing. By wrongly asserting that Apple was the recipient of illegal state aid, it suggests somehow that international businesses are here on account of illegitimate inducements. It, therefore, impinges on the integrity of the legal and commercial regime in this country and the strengths Ireland has to offer.

In addition, the ruling has the potential to create uncertainty for international businesses looking to invest or expand in this country. It could cause them to wonder whether they can rely on the operation here of the basic principle of the rule of law. It might cause them to question whether Ireland is a place in which they can do business without fear of political intervention. Ultimately, it may lead current and potential investors to consider alternative destinations as a better home for their businesses.

All of us in this Chamber appreciate that the stakes are very high. We all know how heavily we rely on foreign direct investment in the country. Overseas companies here create hundreds of thousands of jobs, export tens of billions of euro worth of goods and services, contribute significantly to Government revenues and support innovation across every part of our economy. Their presence here is at the heart of the model that helped transform the Irish economy to the modern, open and thriving one it is today.

That is precisely why the Commission’s ruling, which is based in neither fact nor law, is potentially very serious. It could, if we do not respond in the right way, weaken the foundations of our outward-facing, export-orientated economy. It is, therefore, incumbent on us to appeal this ruling if we want to protect the country’s reputation and our capacity to win FDI in the future.

I recognise, of course, that there is a temptation to accept moneys that the Commission have mistakenly interpreted as being owed to the State. However, to do so would be to accept its damaging and erroneous analysis. It would be tantamount to admitting that we provided illegal state aid, which we absolutely did not.
I fully support the motion presented today and I ask everyone here, regardless of party affiliation or political ideology, to stand together and support this appeal.