Friday 15 December 2017

European Commissioner Phil Hogan 'surprised' at Michael Noonan claims on Brussels

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Doug O'Connor
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

European Commissioner Phil Hogan has expressed surprise at claims from party colleague Michael Noonan that Brussels no longer stands by small states.

Mr Hogan urged the Government to give examples to back up Mr Noonan's allegation that the European Commission promotes the interests of the bigger countries in the bloc.

In his last major speech in office earlier this month, Mr Noonan said it was once the case that the Commission was the bulwark for the interests of small countries to ensure they weren't overwhelmed by the larger economies of France, Germany and Spain among others. But this is no longer true, he added.

Speaking in Brussels yesterday, Mr Hogan said Mr Noonan had not expressed that view to any commissioner.

"I was surprised at that comment by Michael Noonan. He has not expressed that view to me or any other commissioner that that is the case," Mr Hogan said.

"It was the first that we heard of it, that he had a point of view that small member states were actually being treated as second class citizens.

"Maybe he has examples, and I would welcome examples of it from the Irish Government, but I have no indication that the small member states are being treated as different in the context of decision making."

But Mr Noonan told a conference organised by the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) that this was particularly evident in the plans for a common consolidated corporate tax base.

The Government opposes the plans, which include making companies pay tax in countries where sales are made rather than where businesses are controlled.

In Ireland's case, it would undermine the competitiveness of the 12.5pc corporate tax rate that has helped make the country a favourite European base for US multinationals.

Mr Hogan said there is no proposal for tax harmonisation, and that Ireland has a veto.

Mr Hogan also said Ireland will have to be part of the club that "wants to be progressive about the European Union".

"More Europe is in Ireland's interests," the Commissioner said.

Irish Independent

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