By Seán Burns
In yet another farcical display of hypocrisy, the Southern government is appealing the decision of the European Commission that Apple must pay €13 billion in taxes avoided through a sweetheart deal with the state. Apple has cash reserves of over €200 billion. This puts paid to the lie that there isn’t enough wealth in society to provide jobs, homes and public services.
The Southern government has unashamedly displayed its position as a faithful servant of big business. The Irish state has demonstrated its complete disregard for the lives of working-class people in Ireland. They capitulated wholeheartedly to the Commission when it came to bank bail-outs and austerity. There was no appeal of the demand for water charges. Yet, when it comes to defending the profits of multinationals, the government rushed to the barricades!
European Commission – for fair profiteering
In spite of this ruling, the European Commission is no friend of working-class people. The European Commission is a central component of the Troika and has been a key force in pushing the austerity agenda across Europe. Its ruling in this case is not an exception. It defined Apple’s tax evasion as “illegal state aid”. Using the same terminology, it would opposed nationalisation of industry to save jobs. They are not opposed to corporate profiteering – they just want an even playing field for profiteers!
The €13 billion must be paid. That is money which could be used to tackle the crises in housing, health and education. Taxation of big business should be significantly increased, with wealth being pumped back into the economy with investment in infrastructure, industry and public services. The Panama papers and the Apple scandal have gave a glimpse into the immense wealth which is hoarded by the 1%. It must be taken into public ownership and used in a planned and democratic to meet the needs of all.