APPLE, THE EU & BREXIT
At the end of August I wrote about my concerns with the delays Apple was experiencing in Galway. My fear was that they would get impatient and tell the objecting locals to fuck off.
So the Irish Times reports this morning that, “Apple says delay in the Athenry data centre could jeopardise project.” I hate to say I told you so. “Apple has warned Irish authorities that continuing delays around its proposed data centre in the west of the country could jeopardise the $1 billion project, according to sources.”
According to the article, “The objectors are contesting its potential environmental impact and economic benefits.” My arse they are! They are just looking for a pay off to withdraw their objections, that’s all. Ten grand a man should do if Tim Cook is reading this. But I know for a fact that even if Tim did know that, there is no way in hell he’d do a deal with those people. Apple is, and always has been, squeaky clean when it comes to ethics. The idea of paying a bribe to a bunch of go-boy extortionists would be repulsive to their Senior Management.
In fact, at the same time Apple announced the Galway investment they also announced the same thing for Denmark. As you might expect, the Danes welcomed them with open arms and that facility is due to open for business in the next two weeks. In Ireland, Apple is in court in November to defend their “planned,” facility here. Well, I did entitle my article on the topic, “God help our parochial wit.” Depending on the outcome of the case, Apple may quietly shelve the center or scale it back, rather than formally abandon it, according to sources.
Even more worrying though is European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) plan. “Shake-up of EU tax rules a ‘more serious threat’ here than Brexit ” A shake-up of European tax rules to standardise the way corporation tax is calculated would be a more serious threat to Ireland than Brexit,” The head of the State’s budgetary watchdog has warned,” (according to the Indo this morning,) and I concur. In this country we always hear from our betters how we are ‘punching above our weight,’ in the EU. This is down to the fact that historically, on any issue requiring a vote, there was a requirement for the unanimous agreement of all countries. If everyone else said yes and little Ireland said no, then it couldn’t go ahead no matter what it was. Well folks, Jean-Claude has a plan-B.
The unelected Commissioners have an alternative all of their own making called qualified majority voting (QMV). This qualified majority voting overrides not only the people of a little country like ours but even overrides our elected Government. The Commissioner’s terms and conditions may simply be dictated to us, (as in a ‘Dictatorship!’). We are told that, “Mr Juncker is “Strongly in favour of moving to qualified majority voting for decisions on the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, on VAT, on fair taxes for the digital industry and on the financial transaction tax”. Reading between the lines then what the Commissioners want is control of our real money. I’m beginning to think that the British people spotted this a while ago and that’s why they voted to jump ship.
Anyway, in response, Seamus Coffey of the Fiscal Advisory Council said that the proposals would be, “A threat” to Ireland and a dramatic shift in terms of allocation of taxing rights”. In english what he is saying is that our huge internal foreign direct investment that has taken years to attract and build up could simply evaporate in favour of some other more attractive location. If that happens then this country will completely collapse financially. I don’t exaggerate when I say we would see widespread poverty here if Juncker gets his way. If the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base comes up for a qualified majority vote in Brussels anytime soon, we have been warned that all of the Commission will vote it through. What will the likes of Varadkar and Donoghue do then?
Well, apparently a spokesperson for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last night said he will oppose any change to existing EU voting rights on corporation tax. What the hell does that even mean? There is no opposition you can mount against qualified majority voting Leo! Then we are told that Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will attend the informal ‘Ecofin’ later this week where these issues will be discussed. Does that news calm your panic? Do you reckon our lisping Pascal will put manners on Europe? You see, this is not just a serious future emergency for Ireland, it is happening even as we go about our normal lives. If the vote allowed to happen then there will be no overturning it and no stopping the massive closures and job losses after it.
So what do I suggest? Our most senior people need to immediately tell Jean-Claude in no uncertain terms that if the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base is voted through then Ireland will automatically leave the Union the next day, no ifs or buts. One thing must instantly mean the other. Every Government Minister must tell their opposite numbers in every EU state that this will be our reaction because if they don’t, then the presumption will be that we don’t mind that much. And while we are at it, the Minister for Defense should send a few Gardai down to Athenry to visit the objectors down there for a quiet word.
The time for radical action is now!