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Snippet Contents:

It is clear that a section of the European elites wants to drive ahead with a capitalist integration process in respect of militarisation, the development of permanent structural co-operation, an EU military fund, common culture in the military, and capacity for independent European military action. It is integration on an economic level, including on the question of taxation. I note in this regard Mr. Juncker's remarks yesterday about bringing qualified majority voting into questions of taxation, which would include, on the one hand, a financial transactions tax and, on the other, the issue of corporation tax, and increased political integration, with the idea of an economic and finance minister for the European Union once again being raised.
The Irish establishment likes to portray itself as very pro-Europe and does not have a problem with the vast majority of this but it does have a problem with one crucial issue, namely, corporation tax. The Irish political establishment - Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour - have sold our status as an effective tax haven as a key part of Ireland's so-called offering to the world. The reality is that, post-Brexit, this is coming increasingly into the focus of other European powers and will lead to a relationship of tension. The remarks at the start of the Taoiseach's speech about the meeting with leaders of Nordic and Baltic countries were interesting. I just question the Minister of State whether it is the Taoiseach's intention to continue to attend those meetings in the future. It is clear the Government is looking around for allies in a post-Tory Britain scenario. It is also clear the Government's response to the European Council is to continue what it has been doing, which is to hide behind the OECD process and say the Government is in favour of dealing with the problem of the massive rip-off and robbery of public services around the world by big corporations, in particular big digital and Internet corporations, but it is in favour of the OECD doing so, in the hope that it never happens and to avoid taking action in terms of the European Union now.
I noted with interest the reports of the Taoiseach's meeting with Emmanuel Macron yesterday. It is interesting from the point of view of relations between countries, etc., but also interesting politically. An element of the political strategy of Fine Gael could be summed up as the Macron or the Trudeau strategy, which is to get a new young leader to try to look socially progressive, with no substance whatsoever behind that, to repackage the same right wing, neoliberal ideas as new, modern, fresh, outward-looking, globalised, etc., and to bang on about being the new European centre, despite representing the continuation of the same old European right. I wonder whether the Taoiseach got an update from Mr. Macron on how that is working out for him, because it is not working out very well. His opinion poll ratings are the lowest for any French president at this stage of the presidential term. He is facing mass opposition to his so-called labour reforms, which will massively flexibilise the labour market in France, mass protests and mass strikes. I do not think it will go very well for the Taoiseach or for Fine Gael either.
The differences are real. For all the talk of how well the meetings went, etc., it is clear that there are real differences in respect of what are referred to as multinational Internet companies and tax policy. Mr. Macron represents, along with Mr. Juncker, precisely that integrationist approach, which includes the question of taxation. We are not in favour of any policies being imposed on this country. We are in favour of a democratic discussion and debate and people in this country making a decision on what policies exist. That was our approach to all the austerity that was imposed. We do favour an increase in corporation tax. It is deeply ironic that the Irish Government and the establishment wrap themselves in the green flag when the interests of the big corporations are threatened.
Finally, I note that President Macron is today rightly being described as the president of the rich in France because he has cut the wealth tax by 70% at the same time as cutting a €5 grant to students for their accommodation. Perhaps the media could take this from the Macron experience and apply it to our Taoiseach, who is also a Taoiseach of the rich.