Belfast Telegraph

Apple tax ruling fair, says German finance chief

By Josie Clarke

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble has come out strongly in favour of the €13bn Apple tax ruling in a blow to his Irish counterpart, who once counted him as a key ally.

During the EU's bailout of the Republic, Michael Noonan insisted that Schauble was "a friend" and would not do anything to damage Ireland.

But Mr Schauble has now launched a broadside against the Republic and multinational firms - insisting that the European Commission needs to strictly enforce EU competition rules.

Speaking to the 'Bild am Sonntag' newspaper he said individual states should not give "undue advantage" to companies.

Mr Schauble said that he fully backed EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who took on Apple and may soon begin a fresh investigation into tax rulings offered by Luxembourg.

Mr Schauble added that he does not expect that the EU Commission's decision on Apple has direct consequences for Germany.

His views contrast markedly with those of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who last week backed the Republic and warned the ruling could hurt investment in Europe.

But Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel took a similar view to Schauble, welcoming the commission's decision. And in a pointed remark, he warned against giant tech companies being seen to choose "tax havens" to conduct their business.

Irish junior finance minister Eoghan Murphy responded to the latest remarks, saying: "I think it's in the interests of all member states that we appeal this case and that we win it."

Belfast Telegraph