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Sarkozy wants tax rate on agenda

FRANCE wants to force Ireland's 12.5pc corporate tax rate onto the agenda when European heads of government meet today in Brussels.

Heads of government from across the eurozone are meeting today to hammer out a deal on making the European bailout fund bigger and more effective.

Ahead of the meeting, officials from French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said France is now planning to push for the introduction of a minimum rate of corporation tax as part of a wider package of measures to address the euro crisis.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is representing Ireland at the talks in what is likely to be his final official engagement abroad.

"The 12.5pc tax rate is an important weapon in Ireland's armoury," a government spokesman said last night.

"The Irish position is quite clear and President Sarkozy knows that."

Any effort to impose changes would require the unanimous support of all member states.

Mr Sarkozy has raised the tax issue on a number of occasions, and sees it as an unfair advantage that Ireland enjoys over other member states.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland said Ireland should oppose any effort to impose a change on the tax rate.

"The attempts to force the Irish Government's hand on our corporation tax rate must be strongly opposed. Ireland's tax policy remains a sovereign issue and no doubt the Irish Government will remind our EU colleagues of this fact," Joanne Richardson, chief executive of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland.

She said maintaining the 12.5pc rate put Ireland in the best possible position to pay back the €67.5bn EU/IMF rescue funding.

Irish Independent