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Sept. 9 — European Tax Commissioner Pierre Moscovici defended the European Union's Apple ruling, saying it was neither “anti-U.S.” nor “arbitrary.”
Upon his arrival in Slovakia Sept. 9 for a Eurogroup meeting, the commissioner told reporters that the ruling “is based on facts and data which apply to all companies wherever they come from, and especially from European Union countries.”
The Eurogroup meeting is part of a two-day Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) meeting in Bratislava.
The ruling follows “a global, international approach” defined by both the Group of 20 countries and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Moscovici said.
“There's a political will with rules, with principles, with now global standards, which say very clearly that multinational companies should pay, must pay, taxes where they create profits,” he said. “The decision of Apple or any kind of decision is never based on this or that opportunity, or that moment, but on data and on rules.”
The European Commission didn't decide that there was a problem “from scratch,” the commissioner said. “No, there is a problem, and there is a problem if you look at data and facts.”
Moscovici said he found Ireland's decision to fight the tax ruling—which orders Ireland to recover up to 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in unpaid taxes plus interest from Apple Inc.—“strange.”
The “Irish government decided that they will go in front of the courts. We are, of course, respecting that, although it's a strange decision in a way to say that I don't want your 13 billion euros when you could have some social programs or economic programs in a country which has been damaged by the crisis,” he said. “But that's their own will. We are facing the courts now, we will defend our point of view, and we are doing that in a very serene way because we know that we are right.”
Moscovici said the European Commission planned to go further with proposals, including the relaunch of the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) and establishment of a European blacklist of tax havens, and will submit proposals to member states to define which countries will be on the list.
“We don't want tax havens to go unpunished,” he said.
Moscovici said EU citizens won't tolerate foreign multinationals not paying their share of taxes. “In the case of Apple, just remember that this company paid 1 percent for its tax in 2003 and 0.005 percent in 2014,” he said.
The EU needs to have free trade and investment coming from abroad, but citizens are now sending a clear message, Moscovici said. “No more tax evasion, no more tax fraud, no tax avoidance, no more aggressive tax planning.”
The ECOFIN meeting brings together finance ministers from all EU countries, as well as central bankers and representatives of the OECD and the International Monetary Fund.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jan Stojaspal in Bratislava, Slovakia, at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Penny Sukhraj at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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