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16 January 2017 Edition

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Another Europe is possible – Treo eile don Eoraip

Apple and Irish Government under fire for appeal against European Commission tax ruling

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 Matt Carthy MEP 

GUE/NGL’s Matt Carthy MEP has reacted strongly to Apple and the Irish Government’s decision to appeal against a European Commission ruling on illegal state aid which included a record €13billion fine on the tech giant.

The Commission’s 130-page ruling into Apple's tax arrangements in Ireland was released recently, having previously accused both Apple and Dublin for being complicit in favourable tax arrangements which contravene EU laws.

Matt Carthy – a member on the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA) – said:

“The Irish Government’s arguments don’t stand up to scrutiny. The Department of Finance chooses to ignore the economic reality that the structures put in place by Apple and sanctioned by Revenue facilitated industrial-scale tax avoidance.

“The crux of the matter is that there was selective advantage conferred on Apple by Revenue’s sweetheart deals, and nothing in the Government’s appeal summary comes close to challenging this finding. The chances of the Government winning this appeal are slim to nil but it will cost taxpayers millions of euros and further damage Ireland’s international reputation on tax justice.

“The motivation in opposing the ruling is intended to send a comfort message to tax-avoiding multinationals that the Irish Government will have their backs.”

The Ireland North West MEP pointed out that Oxfam has labelled the Irish state as the sixth worst corporate tax haven in the world.

Britain’s Brexit agenda causing businesses concern

MARTINA ANDERSON MEP has said there is clear concern among the business community in Ireland over the British Government’s “Brexit” agenda in its withdrawal from the European Union.

Martina – one of the 12-person team of MEPs who will oversee the Brexit process for the EU Parliament – said after meeting the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Derry:

“British Prime Minister Theresa May and her government don’t have a plan, pathway or clue what they are doing and they appear to be making it up as they go along, preferring slogans rather than strategy. 

“None of this is helping the business community, particularly young entrepreneurs who are keen to avail of the opportunities that being in the EU and access to EU markets bring.”

The Ireland North MEP said:

“In the midst of all the uncertainty, one thing is certain – the majority of people in the North voted to remain in the EU and that must be respected.”

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• Martina Anderson MEP

Time for EU action on illegal Israeli settlements

ISRAELI attempts to retrospectively legalise more than 4,000 houses in illegal settlements and hamper religious observance for Palestinians have been denounced by Martina Anderson MEP, Chair of the EU Palestinian Delegation.

“Every day the Palestinian people struggle under Israeli oppression and denial of human rights,” the Irish MEP said.

The Israeli Knesset (Parliament) was attempting to bring in “two more pieces of repressive legislation”: one seeking to retrospectively legalise 55 illegal settlements of more than 4,000 houses and another seeking to prevent the use of loudspeakers for late-night and early-morning calls to prayer at mosques. 

“There is a need for international action against these oppressive moves, particularly from the EU,” Martina said. 

“The EU is on record as being totally opposed to the retrospective attempts to legitimise settlements. which it regards as theft of private land. 

“While the EU has previously voiced concerns, with Israel now maintaining settlements on 47% of privately-owned Palestinian land, it is time for action. 

“We need to see more than mere condemnation from the EU. It could start by ensuring retailers and importers clearly label all goods coming from settlements.”

Plans to militarise EU short-sighted and immoral

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• Lynn Boylan MEP

LYNN BOYLAN and fellow MEPs have debated with the European Commission’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, over the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

This comes as EU member states are asked to contribute more towards the bloc’s common security and defence policies.

On the CFSP report, German MEP Sabine Lösing – who is also GUE/NGL Co-ordinator on the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) – was quick to point out that a lot of development aid actually flows directly into European companies and organisations:

“Sensible development aid and sustainable development aid look completely different – 60% of the current development aid returns to European industries. 

“We tried in vain to find criticisms [in the report] of the arms industries’ exports – just as the EU continues to be one of the major arms traders in the world.”

She added:

“Arms are being exported in particular to countries in the Middle East and the Far East. 

“I find it rather cynical as you see these people trying to flee to Europe so that they aren’t killed by these weapons. However, they are effectively held up from coming into Europe and are looking for other ways – but it’s almost impossible to find legal migration routes.

“We are heading in only one direction: more arms, more money for weapons, merging internal and external security plus the very aggressive rejection of migrants and refugees.

“If we don’t want to live with the consequences of our actions, then we would need a fundamental change in policy instead of more and more of the same erroneous approach.”

Irish MEP Lynn Boylan, meanwhile, described the entire project as “vain” and “ludicrous”. She also issued a stark warning that a militarised Europe is repeating the historical mistakes of the 20th century:

“We are all well-versed in the history of Europe and know what happened the last time it became extremely militarised.”

Lynn wondered:

“Will the only difference be that this time the guns will be pointed outward instead of inward?

“This is a promotion of an EU arms industry whilst social expenditure has been slashed.

“Reports like this are further evidence of the contempt for neutral member states by many in this Parliament and the European institutions.”

‘Super trawlers’ legislation tightened

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• Liadh Ní Riada MEP

LIADH NÍ RIADA MEP has urged Irish MEPs to reconsider their position and join her in standing up for small-scale and inshore fishermen after some of them opposed her European Parliament amendments to fisheries legislation on ‘super trawlers’.

Liadh, who is the only Irish MEP on the European Fisheries Committee, had put forward amendments which would distinguish between small, sustainable operations and destructive ‘super trawlers’ and factory vessels.

“There are major flaws in legislation that do not properly distinguish between small and large industrial fishing vessels,” the Ireland South MEP said. 

“Thankfully, we still managed to get the majority of our amendments through into the legislation and we will also be pushing the Irish Government in the Council to support this position.  

“If successful, this legislation will be a step in the right direction in tackling ‘super trawlers’ whilst not impeding small-scale fishermen.”

She also welcomed an increase in EU quotas for Irish fishermen but said that they must be distributed more fairly.

Negotiations in Brussels have seen quotas for Irish fishermen increased by 17,000 tonnes for 2017.

The Ireland South representative warned that the increase in allowed catches would mean very little to most fishermen if the quotas were not distributed more evenly between ports.

GUE/NGL group chooses candidate for EP presidency

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GUE/NGL has chosen Italian MEP Eleonora Forenza as its candidate for the presidency of the European Parliament.

Eleonora said:

“I want to thank GUE/NGL for the trust they have placed in me by putting forward my candidature for the European Parliament’s presidency.

“I am a feminist from the south of Europe. This in itself makes a strong political statement and I am acutely aware of the heavy responsibilities this carries.

“I will work to make the Parliament the centre of a project for a Europe built on the full participation of its citizens in politics.

“Having a fully democratic Europe means radically changing the current set-up in the European Union: a model that is based on neo-liberalism, on austerity, on budget constraint, on the sovereign debts and the blackmails. 

“In addition, the lack of recognition of the right to work and the minimum income – particularly in southern Europe – must be reversed. 

“Similarly, an oversight of fundamental rights for women and migrants are all elements which must be changed inside the EU where a third of women have suffered physical or psychological abuse.”

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