New European body to examine companies' tax
The European Parliament has set up a successor to its Special Committee on Tax Rulings to continue its work for another six months.
The Committee was originally established in February to shed light on Member States' tax rulings and examine ways to end unfair tax practices and combat tax evasion in the European Union.
The Special Committee was tasked with investigating current practices, while the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee will - based on the findings of the Special Committee - put forward proposals on how to tackle the problems. The Conference of Presidents of the Parliament, made up of the President of Parliament and the chairmen of the political groups, announced yesterday that the mandate of the new committee will be decided at a special meeting of the Conference of Presidents next Wednesday, following negotiations between the experts of the political groups.
The Special Committee's final report was approved by Parliament on Wednesday, although various Irish MEPs, including those from Fine Gael, voted against it, accusing the body of "meddling in sovereign tax matters".
The report also referenced a discussion the committee had with Finance Minister Michael Noonan earlier this year in which the minster said Europe's probe into the tax arrangements of Apple was more political than legally motivated.
Meanwhile, the European Commission yesterday issued a package of economic reports as part of the first step in the economic and fiscal supervision for 2016, known as the European semester. Part of the package focuses on risks for Ireland due to continuing imbalances in public and private debt.
In Ireland's case the Commission said that private sector debt as a percentage of GDP fell sharply last year as a result of GDP growth and a contraction in credit flow. But it added the ratio remains elevated, in part because of corporate sector debt on the balance sheet of Irish affiliates of multinationals.
"The non-performing loans ratio is also on a declining trend, though it remains high," the Commission said.
It also said that while public sector debt is falling, it remains very high. "The average house price increase exceeded the threshold in 2014 but this comes after a steep downward correction in the previous five years," it added.
"Recent pressures largely reflect supply constraints especially in large urban areas. Pressures are also mounting on the rental market."