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“We have no problem with the 12,5% corporate tax rate in Ireland”, Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told Irish Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee members in a hearing on competition policy on Monday. “But we want to be sure that tax rulings are not being used to grant selective advantages to companies through the backdoor”, she added, referring to the illegal tax ruling that resulted in a minimal tax bill for the American multinational.

Ms Vestager spoke about a range of topical competition issues, varying from corporate tax rulings to state aid for banks, to legislative initiatives, to the different cases against Google and the recent record high €2.9 billion fine for a cartel of five truck producers.

Several MEPs congratulated the commissioner with the decision concerning the Irish tax ruling for Apple, the result of which is that Apple has to repay €13 billion worth in taxes to Ireland. She acknowledged that it is inconvenient to have to ask something back from someone that was given to them, but "this is something you have to live with", she said. Asked about the Irish apeal to the Court of Justice, she said she took this positive: "They will make the case and then we know", she said.

Ms Vestager underlined the importance of a functioning market place and of ongoing legislation, like the proposed country-by-country reporting on employee numbers, profits made and taxes paid (in the Accounting standards Directive), the first steps towards a European list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, and the recently adopted anti-tax avoidance directive.

Live replays of the debate here:

In the chair: Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT)