Apple and the national interest
The decision of the Government to appeal the ruling of the European Commission on the Apple State aid case is the correct one but the tortuous manner in which the decision was eventually arrived at bodes ill for 'New Politics' in general and the minority administration specifically, which has shown itself to be so riven by competing forces and agendas as to be bordering on the dysfunctional. The manner in which the Government is currently operating is simply not good enough at a time when the country needs cohesive and stable leadership in the face of unprecedented challenges such as the UK exit from the European Union and the EC ruling on the Apple case itself.
Exchequer returns for the end of August, also published last week, saw a record deficit of €329m as compared with a deficit of €1,291m in the same period last year. This €962m year-on-year improvement in the Exchequer balance is said by the Department of Finance to be driven primarily by a year-on-year increase in tax revenue, albeit partially offset by increased voted expenditure and reduced non-tax revenue.
The improvement in the State's finances is to be welcomed, but the Government can not rest on the assumption that all will continue to be well. The social fabric of the country is still shredded by the consequences of decisions taken during the austerity years, and, at minimum, ministers must get on with facing up to those challenges, particularly in the general area of housing, and also in a deficient health service and education system. These are the bread-and-butter issues which are faced by governments throughout the developed world. As if that were not enough to contend with, the demands presented by Brexit and now the Apple State aid decision, which of themselves have the potential to fundamentally undermine existing and successful economic policy that give rise to such healthy Exchequer returns, demand that the Government must act collectively and decisively to protect the national interest.