jueves, 15 de septiembre de 2016

Apple tax deal: Controversial ruling backed by MEPs

Ireland’s political isolation over the Apple ruling was laid bare on Wednesday as MEPs overwhelmingly backed the EU’s finding that the State had offered illegal state aid to the US multinational.

In a highly-charged, though sparsely attended, debate at the European Parliament, MEPs from across the political spectrum lined up to congratulate EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on her decision against Ireland.

“Citizens who have been asked for great sacrifices cannot understand that big multinationals do not participate in this collective effort,” said Spanish MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain.

“We as European citizens have to thank for the commissioner for her effort and for remaining so strong on the Apple case. These kinds of actions undoubtedly contribute to European citizens seeing [the European Union] as part of a solution not as a problem.”

Green MEP Sven Gielgold, a long-time tax justice campaigner, said Ms Vestager “deserved a medal” for her actions, while his colleague Philippe Lamberts said he wanted to “clone” the Danish commissioner for taking on multinationals.

German centre-right MEP Markus Ferber congratulated Ms Vestager in finding the “right lever” for tackling unfair taxation through state aid law, “even though it rewards those who ought to be punished”, referring to Ireland’s decision not to accept the €13 billion in recovered taxes.

Other MEPs referred to the funds that were extended to Ireland during the bailout, while a French MEP recalled how she had raised concerns about tax competition with former commissioner Charlie McCreevy.


While the European Parliament has little power over EU competition policy, it has taken a leading role in efforts to clamp down on multitax avoidance by establishing special tax committees in the wake of the Luxembourg Leaks and Panama Papers scandals.

Fine Gael’s Seán Kelly and Brian Hayes were among the only MEPs to question the European Commission ruling. Mr Kelly referred to it as “profoundly wrong and extremely damaging to Ireland”, while Mr Hayes accused the commission of displaying a determination “to get Apple from the start of this investigation”.

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Pablo Zalba Bidegain: “We must say loud and clear that the party is over. Although multinationals create jobs they must pay taxes and we need a consolidated tax basis.”


EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has been defending the decision to order technology firm Apple to pay 13 billion euros in back tax to the Irish government.
She told a European Parliament debate in Strasbourg on Wednesday that the goal is for all companies to pay tax where they generate profits and for all information on that to be made public.
Vestager is also keen for the specifics of the Irish ruling to be known: “Once agreed by Ireland, we will publish our decision for all to see and I hope that this can happen as fast as possible. The published information may also be relevant to tax authorities in other jurisdictions.”
She added: “If the US tax authorities consider that Apple should have paid a higher contribution for research and development to its US parent it could lead to a higher taxable amount in the US.”
Dublin has called the ruling an attack on its business-friendly low-tax regime and is to appeal against it, as is Apple.
Vestager denied that saying the action applied only to two tax rulings which gave Apple a selective advantage.
“The party is over”
Most MEPs in the debate supported the ruling.
Spanish EPP MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain said: “We must say loud and clear that the party is over. Although multinationals create jobs they must pay taxes and we need a consolidated tax basis.”

miércoles, 14 de septiembre de 2016

Emissions scandal: “Member states not keen on strict implementation”

Parliament’s inquiry committee investigating the car emissions testing scandal is now halfway through its mandate, but already it has a clearer view of how car manufacturers were able to claim that their cars polluted many times less than they actually did. MEPs vote on their interim report in plenary on Tuesday 13 September. Watch the video for an interview with report authors Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy and Pablo Zalba Bidegain.
Gerbrandy, a Dutch member of the ALDE group, said: “What we see is a picture of European Commission that seems to be either incapable or unwilling to take action against the growing gap between on-road emissions and those during the test cycle. Secondly we see that the member states were not very keen on very strict implementation and enforcement of car emission legislation.”
Zalba Bidegain, a Spanish member of the EPP, said: “Evidently, nobody knew or even suspected anything until Volkswagen admitted in the US that it was using these kind of devices. On the other hand, everyone was aware that there were discrepancies. I believe this crisis will be an opportunity to improve emissions testing.”
This week there will also be two hearings with EU commissioners and representatives from Bosch, a leading automotive supplier that among others supplies engine control units for diesel engines. The commissioners  attending  the hearings this week are Elżbieta Bieńkowska,responsible for industry and the internal market, and Karmenu Vella, who is responsible for the environment.
So far the Parliament’s inquiry committee into emissions measurements in the car industry has questioned experts as well as representatives from environmental organisations and the car industry. It has also had hearings with  current and former commissioners regarding existing and proposed testing procedures. Committee members asked them  what they knew about the so-called defeat devices that prevent the emissions control system from working properly.