Monday 27 February 2017

Apple dispute eclipses all our previous scraps with Europe

US companies will keep on investing in Ireland, but the political implications of the Apple case are worrying

Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

The Commission's decision has led to 'the most serious public dispute between the Irish state and an EU institution in more than 40 years'
The Commission's decision has led to 'the most serious public dispute between the Irish state and an EU institution in more than 40 years'

All discussion of last Tuesday's finding by the European Commission on the Apple tax case needs to be prefaced with the statement of an important fact - only Apple, the Irish Government and the European Commission are in possession of Brussels' detailed reasoning on how it believes laws were broken. That is because the ruling can only be published in full once all three participants have agreed that there is nothing in it that breaches the confidentiality of any party.

It cannot be stressed enough that as no independent analyst has seen the full ruling, no fully independent assessment of that ruling can be made at this juncture. All sides in what has turned into the most serious public dispute between the Irish state and an EU institution in more than 40 years have been spinning their positions furiously. It is not easy to see past the spin without the full findings.

Despite this lack of clarity, what happened last week was of enormous consequence in multiple ways, ranging from how it highlighted the fragility of the current Government to what it says about how global governance is catching up with globalised economic activity.

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