When I was a child I was told an apple a day kept the doctor away. The point being that it was part of a regime, including not panicking about getting mud in a cut, that would lead to good health in later life. Now in her wisdom EU Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, wants us to take a bite out of Apple, just as they say, it says on the symbol. In a row about what she considers our failure to gather sufficient tax in a timely fashion, she has referred the matter to the European Courts. I am appalled by this and was delighted to see the Minister for Agriculture call the move “vindictive”.
Now, this is a matter of huge importance for this State so let me let loose on what I think is going on here. For starters Commissioner Vestager is said to be eyeing the claret-loving President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker’s job. What better way to impress Europe’s big beasts, France and Germany, than screwing the Irish on their highly competitive tax regime. The President of France, a man who likes to spend as much on make-up as Bertie Ahern did, wants to harmonise corporate tax rates across the EU. He also wants a European Minister for Finance. Believe me folks, this former banker is not on our side.
This brings us to the heart of the matter. As an island nation on the edge of Europe, we have had to be highly innovative in our industrial strategy. A friendly tax regime has helped many multinationals to our shores, generating thousands of jobs. In the case of Apple, they are currently estimated to be spending €850 million in East Galway, an area crying out for investment on this scale. Now it can be said that the contribution in tax by the multinationals needs to be reviewed and I find it hard to disagree with that, but how it is to be addressed is our decision alone, and not a matter to be dictated by those at the heart of Europe who in recent times have shown scant regard for Ireland’s interests.
Do not forget how we got screwed over the banks. We bailed out the French and the German banks and got damn all thanks for it. Jean-Claude Trichet, former head of the European Central Bank, appeared in Dublin like a Consul from Ancient Rome and refused to come before the Oireachtas to explain himself. We are still paying for his actions.
We are trying to be good Europeans. Fair enough, but we are not lapdogs. We are in the process of losing our closest ally in the EU, the United Kingdom. In fairness to the Brits there are reasons they voted to leave and one of the key issues was sovereignty . Mark my words, there are perilous times ahead and there is no room for vindictiveness.