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CORPORATION TAX & THE GERMANS

The story that just won’t go away rears its ugly head again in all of Sunday’s broadsheets. Ireland’s 12.5% corporate tax rate features in numerous articles, with the universal theme that it ain’t over until Angela Merkel sings.

The German chancellor appears hell-bent on grinding concessions out of Ireland in return for any easing of the EU bailout terms, according to both The Sunday Times and The Sunday Independent.

‘Tax battle — are we losing to Germany? – Fears that Noonan will surrender on business rate to get interest cut,’ screams the main headline on the Sindo’s front page.

There is obvious distrust about finance minister Michael Noonan’s ability to defend Ireland’s interests in the fraught negotiations taking place with his counterparts in Europe.

“Ireland’s corporation tax rate is more at risk than ever this weekend as a behind-the-scenes diplomatic effort by the Government aimed at protecting it has not met with success in Europe,” the article states.

“A day after he reportedly had a “good conversation” with Mr Noonan, the German finance minister stated unequivocally that Ireland’s corporate tax issue was still firmly on the agenda.

“Yesterday, Wolfgang Schaeuble said there was ‘no willingness’ to cut the interest rate on the bailout loans ‘if Ireland, for its part, doesn’t want to make any changes’ to its corporate tax rate of 12.5%.” a day after he reportedly had a “good conversation” with Mr Noonan, the German finance minister stated unequivocally that Ireland’s corporate tax issue was still firmly on the agenda.

The German finance minister provides ammunition for a similar article in The Sunday Times, which reports “his blunt tone has come as a surprise to Irish officials who thought Mr Noonan’s efforts are relationship building over two days of informal meetings with other EU finance ministers were bearing fruit”.

Wriggle room seemed to come in comments from government sources that the German had been referring to proposals for a common consolidated corporate tax base rather than to Ireland’s 12.5% rate specifically. It appears Michael Noonan’s charm offensive has some way still to go.

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