Tuesday 23 October 2018

State faces Brexit aid battle with Europe

Tanaiste and Minister for Business, Innovation and Enterprise Frances Fitzgerald heading to Brussels for crunch talks
Tanaiste and Minister for Business, Innovation and Enterprise Frances Fitzgerald heading to Brussels for crunch talks
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

The Government has formally notified the European Commission of plans to grant up to €10m each to Irish companies severely impacted by Brexit, placing Ireland on another potential collision course with EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

Ireland, which is facing a referral by Vestager to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to recover up to €13bn from tech giant Apple following last year's illegal state aid ruling, is seeking approval under the EU's strict state aid rules for the special Brexit scheme.

The proposed "rescue and restructure scheme" would see any one firm receive up to €10m in the form of grants or equity supports.

The application for the scheme was first notified last August to the Directorate General for Competition and has now moved to the phase of formal notification.

Tanaiste and Minister for Business, Innovation and Enterprise Frances Fitzgerald will travel to Brussels this week to meet Vestager to discuss the scheme and to inform the commissioner of "the unique exposure" of Irish businesses to the current and future impacts of Brexit.

In a wide-ranging interview in which she robustly defends Ireland's taxation model, Fitzgerald said the rescue and restructure scheme is needed to shore up support for businesses facing their "biggest challenge in decades".

Fitzgerald also said that, in future trade talks between the UK and the EU, Ireland's unique exposure to the UK could prove a more difficult hurdle to overcome than tax, the Border or the Common Travel Area.

Improvements to capital gains tax relief for entrepreneurs and key foreign talent will also be introduced in Budget 2019, according to Fitzgerald, following criticism that jobs and growth will be negatively impacted without further support.

Interview page 6

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