‘This Is An Argument About Competition’


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From top: The panel on last night’s Prime Time and Dr Aidan Regan, of UCD

Last night.

On RTÉ’s Prime Time.

The panel – Eoin Fahy, chief economist with KBI Global Investors, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger and Dr Aidan Regan, from the School of Politics and International Relations in UCD – discussed the Apple tax bill with presenter David McCullagh.

During the discussion…

Dr Aidan Regan: “This is the crucial point that really wasn’t picked up either, in the preceding interviews, the ruling that the Commission have issued basically states that Ireland should apply its tax laws, 12.5% consistently.

“It’s basically said that allowing Apple to set up a subsidiary, split it into two companies, allow them to transfer the sales profits to one of those companies, the head office, that is basically stateless, it’s in the cloud, ensures that they don’t pay tax – call it aggressive tax planning, call it corporate tax avoidance.”

“Now the point from the Commission’s perspective is that that’s perfectly legal and it has been legal. Now, the Government has since closed it. The argument of the Commission is that’s illegal state aid. So this is an argument about competition. The Commission is saying that Ireland has broke the laws of the European Union by facilitating a large multinational to have comparative advantage over its competitors in the market.

“So it’s not actually saying Ireland’s laws were wrong, it’s not about morality, it’s not about legality. They accept that was perfectly legal. They’re pointing out that it’s illegal to facilitate a company, like Apple.”

David McCullagh: “But that only applies if other companies didn’t get similar treatment and there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that if another company had come along and asked the same question that Apple asked, that they wouldn’t have got the same answer. In fact, it’s probably pretty obvious that they would have got the same answer.

Dr Regan: “Possibly and this, I think, is what we don’t fully know. The full ruling is confidential and I would be very curious to see precisely what it was about those two particular tax rulings in 1991 and 2007 that clearly signal to Apple that it was OK for them to avoid paying the 12.5% by transferring their profits to another company and effectively pay zero.”

Watch back in full here

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36 thoughts on “‘This Is An Argument About Competition’

  1. Harry Molloy

    Dr Aido seems to be doing a good job of separating the wheat from the chaff in that short piece of text, I might give a listen to this when I get home, thanks

    1. :-Joe

      Never a more true and eloquent poetic line ever posited on this small corner of the internet….

      +Whatever you’re having yourself….



    eu: get the taxes your owed

    ireland: yer grand, we don’t want them

    eu: we shuffled some papers & have concluded that it was illegal

    ireland: why do yiz care inallinanyways?

    eu: so we can take the majority of it from you in one way or another when you do

      1. :-Joe

        You forgot the bit about selling the economy off as an aspiring middle class delusion of slave labour….

        Buy into now over and over and get F.U.C.K-A.L.L-E.V.E.R !!!

        .. but +1 and likes all round for trying…


    1. Anomanomanom

      Absolutely right. Lets be frank here, Ireland has absolutely nothing go for it bar our skilled work force. If these companies have to more tax, I agree they should pay 12.5 on IRISH made profit, why would they stay when our rates of pay are ridiculously.

      1. Tish Mahorey

        “Ireland has absolutely nothing go for it bar our skilled work force”

        So has almost everywhere else.

        1. Anomanomanom

          Despite the old “every where has skilled workers” Ireland does have one of the top rates of highly educated skilled and english speaking people. Jesus or leaving cert is better than half the crap the hand out in colleges in other countries.

        2. Increasing Displacement

          Natural resources.
          Manufacturing capacity in place.
          Free energy sources and the will to exploit them.
          Tourists, associated facilities, attractions and transport to take their money
          Easy access to foreign markets (Irish sea etc expensive to cross)
          A large population
          Modern infrastructure

          Ireland has none of these things. Many countries do.

          1. Kieran NYC


            A lot of people seem to think we’d be fine if all foreign investment just upped and left.

            But at least we’d all be equal in the mud together, eh?

          2. :-Joe

            Since when were they mutually exclusive?

            You can have both….y’know.?…

            It’s all about long term planning, grogressiveness, priorities and self interest.

            Apple’s own self-interest is what Ireland seems to have prioritsed to plan for and progress over Irelands economic self interest as a healthy nation.

            How this sub-thread can’t even acknowledge this in its’s statements above is dumbfounding to say the least…


        3. :-Joe

          Well, Ireland and everywhere else will never have anything going for it if we keep making the same stupid decisions based on bad economic ideology…..

          If enough states get together and agree on international guidelines this can be changed.

          One of the reasons why in theory, the E.U is a great idea….


      2. scottser

        it’s not about the 12.5% they pay, it’s about the strokes that are pulled and the lies that are told to facilitate a company declaring a pittance that is then taxable at 12.5%.

    2. Deluded

      Completely wrong, Jimmy.
      _Apple_ are dodging tax across Europe and we are facilitating it. In fact there are over ninety thousand companies registered here and paying zero tax. We have been asked to collect this tax and to stop aiding and abetting them.
      Many think this is clever, “shur we’re all at it” but what is the logical progression from that?
      If governments are no longer collecting this tax then regional development will be decided by company boards and culture will be at the pleasure of a Carnegie or Vanderbilt. Isn’t that what we have dragged ourselves out of?

      1. :-Joe

        Yes this,

        It’s the most accurate assement I’ve ever heard so far from a space monkey, astronaut or any other kind of chimpanzee-astronaut, space-mammal combination…

        Nevermind the Irish, humans have a lot to live up to when this is going down….


        1. Deluded

          I’m aware that for all my airs and graces I am here because of the ingenuity and hard work of others and also that I am prey to the whims of our animal complex no matter how I dress it.

          1. :-Joe

            lol… It’s ok, even us mere humans need to hurl some $ hit at each other every now and again. How else can we hope to resolve our stark differences.


  3. Demos

    Of course it also helps if you can do a little mental time travel.
    1991 Apple was a moderate sized tech company with a great set of niche products used by creative types.
    They weren’t making huge profits and Ireland needed the jobs.
    2007 Apple had the IPod, profits were rising, June 29th iPhone released.
    Either the Irish negotiating team completely dropped the ball or Apple threatened to take said ball and go home.

    2016 Apple are largest company on Earth but paying less tax than a decent Jersey accountant.

  4. classter

    It’ll be interesting to see if the ruling stands up in court.

    It’d be a lot easier to get behind this if there were some serious French/German multinationals being pursued for aggressive tax planning rather than only American ones.

    1. Increasing Displacement

      The mainland Europeans want us back in our place. A backwater.
      As far as their concerned we owe them.

      1. Deluded

        The mainland Europeans want no such thing.
        Even at the height of the boom we received structural aid and this is how we are repaying 40 years of grants and favours.
        We are already offering 12.5% corporation tax, there is no excuse for us allowing these companies to avoid their responsibilities.

  5. Nigel

    I suppose at the end of the day this isn’t really about the EU telling us what to do with our taxes and us standing up for our sovereignty, it’s about whether strokes were pulled in those two still-confidential deals, and without knowing what was in them, we can’t know for sure. Given who was in charge, it’s perfectly east to suppose that strokes were pulled and our government colluded with a multinational corporation in multinational corruption, and FG thinks it;s worth all that money to stand up not for our sovereignty, but the tattered shreds of our integrity. Most of the rest of country just think it’s a charade and wish they wouldn’t bother. It’s a clown show, and it’s because of those two deals, though stuff like this always lays bare so many resentments and insecurities, half the time we don’t know what we’re arguing about.

  6. :-Joe

    (Third time lucky maybe..?)

    ( I’ll edit itmyself)

    I used a multi-lingual verson of everything that Broadsheet.ie has posted on this subject in both text and audio format and fed it through a script that’s connected to Siri the Apple helper-bot / neural network of human understanding…

    The results were shockingly surprising, if not strangely honest…

    Here’s the tranlsation…

    The Irish have been and now are, completely sub-servient to our will and have been for the last four decades or more…

    We love jamming it into the Irish economy because it’s so easy. In fact, as far as we know ir’s now part of the curriculem to bend over to us corporations, thanks to the litany of moronic schoolteachers that have been making the key decisions over the years that affect Irish society and the mnemonics of the mass poplulation..

    The total bill is laughable to us… It’s only 25% of what we made last year… and who cares… next year we are creating a new device that will be twenty times easier for three to five year old chinese workers to assemble and it will sell ten times more and guess what?…. China still don’t give a F.U.N.K !….

    We love fake free markets and fake capatilism, especially when the dumb Irish are concerned….

    Even our own company economy is bigger than the majority of actual countries with real people so the EU can kiss our sweet corporate virtual ass….

    Conor McGregor we are coming for you, you ain’t shit mutha…fun car… we will take you down with better innovations in every way,,, you can’t handle our research and design budget you silly young person with a stereotypical Dublin street accent…. Apple will be the new 5 continent USC Champion of all time… !!!

    Fo’REAL…Peace out, mutha’ Funkaaaas !!!…

    (I think the last part was an error because I told Siri my name was “angry and motivated Dubliner” who would like to smash apple in the face with a strong feinted roundhouse followed by a left hook of reality…)

    Ahh. the good auld one-two and it’s importance that my grandad taught me to respect so well as a little go.b.shyt3 many years ago..


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