EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness on a collision course with government over tax

EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness has said she would support ending veto member states, in some cases, on EU tax policy, putting the former Fine Gael MEP here on a potential collision course with the government, which has Ireland’s tax autonomy has long been prized.

Aired McGuinness said a majority vote could be held if countries abused their veto to take advantage of influence on other issues.
The former European Parliament vice-president has previously defended Ireland’s veto, but said the situation on taxation had evolved.
This puts him on a potential collision course with the Irish government, which recently attempted to block a tax transparency law adopted by a majority last year.

“I think I would support it in areas where Member States may withhold some for reasons other than those related to resolutions,” she told a group of journalists in Brussels.

“On taxation, I know I must have defended the unanimous vote in Parliament because Ireland had a very fixed view on taxation. I think it has evolved.”

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire last week called for an end to the national veto on EU tax law after Hungary used its veto to lower the 15pc minimum tax on large multinationals in the 11th hour was.

The veto came after Poland officially removed its opposition to the deal. Poland signed after the EU unblocked €36bn in pandemic funding for the country and pledged to adopt a parallel tax deal targeting the world’s biggest tech firms.

That deal has caused a technical snag at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which drafted and brokered both agreements last year.

It is also unclear when and even whether the US will sign any deals given political disagreements over President Joe Biden’s infrastructure and investment plans.

The European Commission has said it will introduce a law on the second part of the deal – known as Pillar 1 – and which could cost the Irish exchequer up to €2bn per year – if it is not agreed internationally. could.

A total of 137 countries, including Hungary, Poland and Ireland, signed both deals in principle last October. The European Union then introduced a draft law implementing the 15pc rate.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Sizzarto said last week that he was “not keen” for that tax because it could deal a “profound blow” to European firms as they struggle to deal with the effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Were.

“I think what Hungary did was last minute, no doubt about it,” said Ms McGuinness.

“Maybe they are watching what America is doing. And it could affect America’s actions.

“I can’t say with certainty why this proposal has been derailed, but it is certainly, from our point of view, a bit of a blow.

“This does not mean that we will go back on our commitment, and we expect the United States to do the same.”

Ireland has fiercely defended the national veto on issues such as taxes and foreign affairs, where it sticks to its principle of neutrality.

But talk that the removal of the national veto on foreign affairs has resumed after Hungary’s bloc on the recent EU sanctions package against Russia.
Budapest delayed that deal for weeks while it negotiated a compensation package with the European Union.

Last year an EU parliamentary committee suggested the use of majority voting for tax matters, which is possible under EU treaties if national laws “distort” the single market.

European Commission economy chief Paolo Gentiloni has also issued that view, and said last week that “unanimity is a difficulty in many circumstances”.

Her boss, commission chair Ursula von der Leyen, told news website Politico this week that she was “deeply convinced” that the national veto on foreign policy issues should end.

It comes a month after a series of consultations with EU citizens – under the banner of the Convention on the Future of Europe – concluded that treaties should be changed to allow majority voting in some cases.