Politics

Macron arrives in Dublin with plot to force Ireland to backdown in global tax row

Farage challenges Rees-Mogg on improving Brexit deal

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The French President is expected to use his hardline stance against Boris Johnson on Brexit to garner the support of Irish premier Micheal Martin for the planned global 15 percent minimum corporate tax rate. On his first trip to Ireland since entering office, Mr Macron has pencilled in a working lunch with his Irish counterpart Mr Martin. The pair are set to discuss Brexit, Afghanistan, as well as the thorny issue of taxation.

Ireland is part of a handful of nations that have so far refused to sign up for the global tax deal brokered by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

This is because many big multinational firms, such as Google, Apple and Facebook, have made their Europe home in Ireland, attracted by the country’s low 12.5 percent corporate tax rate.

Ahead of Mr Macron’s visit, an Elysee official said that Paris believes the Irish “have not completely closed the door” on joining the global tax deal.

“It will be the focus of our talks and we are heading to Ireland to listen and understand the difficulties,” the insider said.

Multinationals operating in Ireland employ nearly a third of the country’s entire workforce and generate half of its income tax.

France, which has corporate tax rates nearer 30 percent, argues that Dublin has used its low rates to poach US investment away from it.

But Paris believes that the mood could be changing in Dublin.

The Elysee official added: “The Taoiseach and the ministry of finance gave us signals they were ready to work on this and look at the details of the deal.

“And generally the talk of taxation in Irish business circles is evolving.”

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire will have his own working lunch with his Irish counterpart Paschal Donohue.

Irish officials told the Politico news website that Dublin will continue to argue in favour of maintaining its 12.5 percent tax rate.

The source said: “We cannot prevent other jurisdictions from charging additional corporate tax on profits beyond Ireland’s own sovereign rate of 12.5 percent.

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“Likewise, our European partners know well that tax is a sovereign matter and the policies being proposed at OECD level will not in any way prevent Ireland from continuing to manage its taxation policies as a sovereign matter.”

The European Commission sees getting Ireland onside as vital, with eurocrats planning to turn the global tax deal into an EU law next year.

Tax initiatives require unanimous support from member states before they can be forced through by the Brussels machine.

Estonia and Hungary have also opposed the minimum tax of corporate tax proposed by the OECD.

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Mr Macron, who will become head of the EU’s rotating presidency next year, will play a huge role in the wrangling.

He is confident that he can create common ground with his Irish counterparts by boasting of his attempts to stand up to Prime Minister Mr Johnson during the Brexit negotiations.

The French President also wants to make a point of his assistance in protecting Dublin’s position in the single market with the creation of several new shipping routes between Ireland and France.

Mr Macron will also meet Irish President Michael Higgins, as well as visit Trinity College and the Guinness Enterprise Centre.

His trip is part of an election pledge by Mr Macron to visit all 27 EU member states, with Ireland one of only four countries yet to be crossed off his list.

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