Ireland will today launch a formal appeal against the controversial EU ruling that Apple received an unfair tax deal worth €13bn, and must pay it back with interest.
The Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he would file the appeal against the European Commission's decision to force Ireland to claw back the claimed tax subsidies, at meeting with MEPs in Brussels yesterday that was sometimes heated.
"The Government fundamentally disagrees with the European Commission's analysis. The decision left the Government no choice but to take an appeal to the European courts, and this will be submitted tomorrow," he told the European Parliament.
At the same session, the minister faced a barrage of criticism of Ireland's corporate tax regime, including accusations that Ireland offers "brass-plate arrangements" to foreign multinationals while taking EU bailout money. Mr Noonan said the country would "pay back every euro we've got".
"Nobody will be out of pocket as a result of the Irish position," he told MEPs in the European Parliament's economic affairs committee, where he appeared for a routine post-bailout hearing.
On Apple, Mr Noonan said it was up to the US authorities to collect any back taxes due.
"It's not our fault that there are mismatches between international tax practices," Mr Noonan said, adding that it was "not just Ireland" that had special tax arrangements in place for multinationals.
"There are several countries in Europe - and I don't want to name them, everybody here knows them - where doubling arrangements were made," he said.
"The tax practices that gave rise to the Apple decision are no longer part of Irish law, but we still think that the Competition Commissioner is wrong in law, and we're appealing on those grounds," Mr Noonan added.
The Government's standing in Europe has taken a hit since European competition chief Margrethe Vestager found that Apple had received a €13bn unfair tax treatment in Ireland.
French MEP Bernard Monot asked when the Government would recoup the money, while Irish MEP Nessa Childers accused Mr Noonan of "stonewalling" the EU on its new corporate tax overhaul.
Ms Childers said the Government should consider supporting the new rules - known as the common consolidated corporate tax base, or CCCTB - in exchange for special treatment during the Brexit negotiations with the UK.
The grilling came the same day as EU finance ministers held a talks on the CCCTB.
Mr Noonan said that he would "work constructively" on the issue but warned the plan would shrink Ireland's corporate tax take, if applied in full.
He said "a prudent fiscal policy" would help to deflect some of the negative effects of Brexit.
He also criticised EU budget rules, which he said were not applied fairly across the European Union. "There is a perception that the rules are being applied differently for small and large member states.
"This is a real sensitivity for small member states," he told MEPs.