The president of the European Parliament has said he supports Ireland’s position against tax harmonisation and reiterated that it cannot be changed without the country’s agreement.
Hand-Gert Pottering’s view disagrees with that of his home country, Germany, which together with France, would like to see Ireland’s low corporation tax system reined in.
“I am against tax harmonisation and I believe Ireland is right to insist you have your own tax system and there is no way that can be taken away without a unanimous vote in the council, and nothing can change without the Irish voting for it”, he said.
One of the longest serving MEPs in the parliament, he led the largest group, the European People’s Party (EPP-ED) for a number of years before taking up the president’s post over a year ago.
The EU had made tremendous economic progress in having a single currency, and there has always been a discussion about whether there should be a harmonised economy, but he believed the member states could be united in their diversity.
Solidarity was important, and the human dignity of citizens meant that they should also have sufficient material means. Ireland was perhaps the best example of this solidarity working in the EU as it had succeeded in improving the lives of its citizens with help from its fellow member states.
The union’s core values of democracy, human rights, solidarity and subsidiarity — allowing action to be taken at local level — unites the countries and allows each to defend and retain their diversity.
Whether a country has a population of 80 million or four million, each has its own identity, which has to be defended, he said.
Former European Parliament president, Pat Cox, and now president of the prestigious pro-EU Congress of Europe, said he was optimistic the Lisbon treaty will pass in Ireland once the Government and the Referendum Commission get out the information to the public.
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