MINISTERS in Europe's two biggest economies have struck a deal to phase out so called "patent box" tax deals for companies by 2020.
It will be seen as a blow to Ireland, where the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan announced plans to introduce an Irish version of the tax break in last month's Budget.
Ireland's planned "knowledge development box" would allow companies generous tax breaks based on their intellectual property rights.
But it has been reported the German and UK finance ministers have now agreed a deal that will mean so called patent boxes expire by 2020.
Meanwhile, officials at the Department of Finance have played down reports that EU investigators have broadened their investigation into Apple's tax affairs here to other companies.
It is understood that some details in relation to companies other than Apple had been sought, but as part of the initial phase of the probe, and to provide comparisons.
Officials repeated Minister for Finance Michael Noonan's statement that the probe is likely to be dropped.