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Taoiseach misleading Irish people on European Tax Proposals - McDonald

30 December, 2007

Responding to Bertie Ahern’s comments this morning that plans for a European common tax base were ‘stupid’ Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has slammed the Taoiseach for misleading the Irish people and the Oireachtas on this issue.

The Dublin MEP said:

“In the final week of the Dáil sitting this month my colleague Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach about this matter noting that the Commission had only temporarily shelved proposals on the harmonisation of European corporation tax.

“The Taoiseach’s responses were at best inaccurate and at worst a deliberate effort to mislead the Dáil on this contentious issue. The Taoiseach stated that the Commission discussions to date were of a purely technical nature and there has been no substantive political level discussion on the matter.

“Firstly the discussions on a European common tax base are not of a purely technical nature. They are an accepted political objective of the European Commission. As an MEP I can tell you that the realisation of the European common tax base is absolutely a substantive political discussion.

“The European Taxation Commissioner László Kovacs told parliament this month that corporation tax was not now listed in the 2008 strategic priorities however a proposal would be brought forward in the summer work programme. He also noted that is if unanimity by member states on harmonising taxation is not forthcoming from member states the enhanced cooperation procedure will be triggered i.e. he has a plan B to progress the project.

“It has been widely reported in the European press that the temporary shelving of the tax proposals is a direct result of Charlie McCreevy lobbying the Commission to do so on the basis that the issue will impede the governments Yes Campaign in the Lisbon Treaty referendum due to be held in the first half of next year.

“That the Taoiseach would prioritise the EU project at the cost of the national interest is a damning indictment of both his political leadership and the Fianna Fáil party’s integrity. As we saw in the run up to the election this is a party that will pretty much tell the people anything to get a result.

“The fact remains that the European Commission wants a common tax base. In response to a question I put to Commissioner Kovacs on the issue he told me that if member states did not unanimously accept the Commission’s proposals then the existing enhanced cooperation provisions from previous Treaty’s would facilitate the adoption of such policy. This is the Commissions Plan B.

“This is not scaremongering, it is a political reality that Europe is seeking to centralise taxation policy. This reality will be a factor in the referendum campaign.” CRÍOCH

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