DUBLIN, (Xinhua) — The Irish parliament on Wednesday evening passed a government motion backing the proposed appeal of a European Commission’s ruling that Ireland granted U.S. tech firm Apple billions of euros in illegal state aid.
Following a 10-hour heated debate in the Dail Eireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament, lawmakers voted 93-36 to support the appeal against the European Commission’s ruling.
The European Commission ruled last week that Ireland granted undue tax benefits of up to 13 billion euros (14.5 billion U.S. dollars) to Apple, saying that “selective treatment” allowed Apple to pay a tax rate of 1 percent on EU profits in 2003 down to 0.005 percent in 2014.
In response to the ruling, the Irish government decided to appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Ireland’s main parties, Fine Gael (United Ireland Party), Fianna Fail (Republican Party) and the Labor Party, voted in favor of challenging the ruling. A number of amendments to the motion were rejected.
Ireland has a period of two months and 10 days to bring an appeal. The government will now study the ruling in consultation with its legal advisors to prepare the grounds for an appeal.
The Dail Eireann was reconvened early from summer recess on Wednesday to debate on the government’s motion on the ruling.
In a speech to the Dail Eireann, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said the ruling is “so profoundly wrong and damaging that it demands an immediate, clear and strong response.”
“The picture of Ireland painted by the Commission in its decision, as a country prepared to play fast-and-loose with the law to gain unfair advantage, could not be more damaging or further from the truth. This is not a Commission finding that stands by a small country that has played by the rules,” the Irish prime minister said.
“It cannot be allowed to stand. We will, as the government has made clear, appeal it before the European Courts, with every expectation of success,” he said.
Kenny said his government does not accept the decision the European Commission has made.
“We are determined to ensure that it does not stand. That’s why we will appeal it to the European Courts,” he said.
He also said Ireland does not offer special favors or deals on tax.
“Everyone is treated equally and according to the law,” Kenny said.
On the country’s controversial corporate tax, the prime minister said Ireland is “unshakably” committed to its 12.5-percent corporate tax rate.
“We are determined to ensure the highest international standards in transparency in tax, and we will continue to work with others to advance reform at international level,” he said.
The European Commission’s findings are a result of the culmination of a three-year investigation by EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager into tax arrangements for Apple, dating back 25 years.
In a statement, the European Commission said the benefit was “illegal under EU state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. Ireland must now recover the illegal aid.”
At the center of the Apple controversy are two of the company’s subsidiaries — Apple Operations Europe and Apple Sales International.
These firms were registered in Ireland, but they were controlled in the United States where they held their board meetings.
Revenue authorities taxed the companies on the basis of their activities in Ireland. However, the European Commission says both companies should have been taxed by Ireland on the basis of their worldwide income.