MEP responds to tax haven accusation saying there is 'jealousy' about Irish success

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes says that “there is a lot of jealousy” about Ireland’s success in attracting foreign direct investment.

He was responding to a recommendation from the European Parliament on Tuesday urging EU member states to curb money-laundering in the bloc by ending programmes to sell visas and passports, a step the multibillion-dollar industry said would cause economic damage.

The recommendation is part of a hard-hitting report which also accused seven EU countries, including Ireland, of acting as tax havens.

The others are Luxembourg, Cyprus, Malta, Hungary, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The document is the result of a year’s work by the parliament’s committee on financial crime and tax evasion.

The report has now been adopted by the whole assembly, boosting its political weight, though it remains non-binding.

Lawmakers said EU states should “phase out” as soon as possible all existing schemes to market citizenship and residency permits to wealthy foreigners.

Currently 20 of the 28 EU states run these programmes.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland Mr Hayes said that while the perception that Ireland is a tax haven is damaging, “it is nothing new.”

The EU report “has a whole pile of issues in it” he added. Mr Hayes warned that tax harmonisation is a real threat to Ireland.

Large swathes of the report are inaccurate, he said. The ‘double Irish’ has been closed down (it will operate until next year).

It was the right decision to close it down.

Mr Hayes said he is asking colleagues in the European Parliament to show him where Ireland could get the €2billion to €3billion “if it is knocked from the tax take.”

To allow that to happen “would be absolutely irresponsible.”

He added that he did not believe that the recommendation is a direct consequence of support for Ireland in Brexit.

“The European Parliament has a huge majority of MEPs who believe they should get a bigger take of our tax.”

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