Macron denies pressuring Ireland over corporation tax

The French president said he was continuing to work with the government on the thorny issue of corporation tax – but it was an issue where the state had to lead.

Emmanuel Macron was in Dublin for a one-day visit on Thursday, his first trip to Ireland since taking office.

The state is responding to calls from the French government to adhere to global tax reform. The country is one of the few countries that has not accepted a major Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) agreement on taxation, which is supported by more than 130 countries around the world, as well as the EU.

The government has previously pledged to defend the state’s 12.5 percent corporate tax and is still considering how the tax deal would be implemented. On Thursday, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe met with his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire.

At a press conference in Dublin on Thursday, Mr Macron denied lobbying the state on the issue.

“It’s up to you to lead. It’s not for France to push. But I think the OECD framework works in context,” Macron said.

“It makes sense in terms of cooperation. This makes sense from an EU perspective.

“I think our fellow citizens no longer understand that when you are an SME you pay taxes. But when you’re a big business, you don’t pay taxes.

“I’m confident, but I’m not putting pressure. I work with your Taoiseach,” he said.

He said the Irish economy had achieved ‘tremendous results’ over the past decades and acknowledged that a low corporate tax base had been a crucial part of that success.

“What you have managed to do over the past decades is unique,” Macron said. But he said things had to change following the Covid-19 pandemic. “The situation is quite different. The post-Covid world is quite new,” he said.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, speaking alongside the French president, acknowledged that the state had “reservations” about the corporate tax proposals. “We had a good discussion. Ireland has always been constructive with multilateral organizations such as the OECD,” said Mr Martin.

Mr Macron also said he would coordinate with “our American allies” in response to the explosions outside Kabul airport.

Speaking in French during the visit, he said: “As we speak in front of you, the situation is getting worse around the military airport.

“We are facing a very tense situation, which leads us to coordinate with our American allies.

“We will also coordinate closely on issues to be addressed in the near future, military cooperation, migration issues and cooperate with the UN Security Council, because in the days and weeks to come we will have to define the courses of the UN mandate.

“The next few hours will remain extremely dangerous in Kabul and around the airport.”

He added: “No one expected such a quick and brutal situation in Kabul. President Biden confirmed to us during the G7 that he would leave the military airport and stop his operations with Afghanistan.

“I think de facto we’re all put in a position where we can’t protect all the Afghans we wanted to protect.” He noted that talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan are ongoing as buses with French citizens and people France wants to protect are at the entrance to Kabul airport.

Following a meeting with Mr Macron on Thursday, Mr Martin said Britain and the EU could find sensible solutions to problems with Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trade deals with the right political will.

“A positive and constructive future partnership is in everyone’s interest, but it will only be achieved if there is a relationship of trust and a willingness to respect the commitments made”, declared Mr. Martin at the end of the meeting. meeting.

The EU has “shown commitment, patience and creativity in its work to implement the [EU-UK Brexit] the withdrawal agreement and the [Northern Ireland] protocol,” he added. The protocol is a part of the Withdrawal Agreement which creates special post-Brexit trade deals for Northern Ireland and has been the source of political tension between unionists and between the EU and Britain.

Mr Macron told Mr Martin that France would not let Ireland down on its difficulties with Brexit and that the EU would remain united after London’s request to renegotiate the protocol.

“We will ensure that the agreements signed after very long negotiations are respected in terms of fisheries or with the protocol of Northern Ireland,” Macron said. “To put it bluntly: we won’t let you down.”

Welcome to Aras

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Macron was welcomed to Ireland by President Michael D Higgins.

Writing in the guestbook Áras an Uachtaráin, Mr Macron said Ireland “holds a precious place at the heart of the European dream”.

He said France would “remain a staunch friend” of Ireland in the future.

“Because Ireland has constantly fought for peace, was a land of exile before becoming a land of welcome, because its society is united and open, Ireland occupies a precious place at the heart of the European dream”, he added. noted.

“Your invitation today to meet the minds that shape Ireland is a great honor and an inspiration.

“France is your closest neighbor within the European Union and will remain a faithful friend for the future. With confidence, Emmanuel Macron.

Mr Macron arrived at the Áras from Dublin’s Phoenix Park around 10.30am. The two presidents discussed various topics, including the future of the European Union after Brexit, Africa, Covid-19 vaccinations , climate change and the ongoing situations in Afghanistan, Ethiopia. and Haiti.

positive relationship

A statement from Áras said: “The meeting builds on the very close and positive bilateral relations between the two countries, a partnership based on the shared European values ​​of tolerance, respect for human rights and commitment. for multilateral cooperation.

“President Higgins underlined his support for a social Europe and the need to develop new links between economics, ethics and ecology.

“President Higgins thanked President Macron for his continued support for Ireland, our common ideals within the European Union and France’s assistance with regard to our citizens in Afghanistan.”

The Irish Defense Force’s Army Number One band performed the Irish and French national anthems on Mr Macron’s arrival.

Later, the pair emerged from the garden side of Áras an Uachtaráin and walked down a gravel path, laughing steadily as they talked at length in English.

Mr Higgins asked Mr Macron to ring the peace bell, which was inaugurated by former Irish President Mary McAleese to mark the 10th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement. He was also taken in by Mr Higgins’ dogs, Bród and Misneach.

Mr Higgins joked “he’s an experienced diplomat, he’s nine years old”, speaking of Bród, the eldest of his two Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Besides his finance minister, Mr Macron’s delegation included Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune and France’s Ambassador to Ireland Vincent Guérend.

During his one-day visit to Dublin, Mr Macron will also visit Trinity College Dublin and the Guinness Enterprise Centre.

The visit fulfills part of Mr Macron’s electoral commitment to visit all 27 EU member states, with the Republic one of only four countries still to be removed from his list.

Later Thursday, Mr Macron will return to Áras an Uachtaráin, where Mr Higgins will host a reception in his honor. -PA/Reuters

Luisa D. Fuller