The Finance Minister says he will work to protect Ireland’s corporate tax rate in his new role as Eurogroup President.
Paschal Donohoe was last night elected president of the group of eurozone finance ministers.
He will serve a 30-month term in the role, as Europe faces into its worst recession since World War II.
Ireland has long been criticised for its corporate tax regime, with multi-national companies that locate here paying far lower rates than they would elsewhere.
Some of the bloc’s most powerful members, including France and Germany have pushed for it to be changed in recent years; however, Minister Donohoe says he will work to protect it.
Speaking last night, he said his colleagues in Europe understand the importance of the issue to Ireland.
“During the campaign, when I was asking for the vote of colleagues, they understood what our national position on these matters was,” he said.
“But every colleague that I engaged with had a national position on issues that really mattered to them.
“That is the way the European project works. We have issues that are really, really vital for Ireland and other colleagues have similar issues.”
Minister Donohoe was elected by secret ballot during a video conference meeting of Eurozone finance ministers yesterday.
He said his top priority as Eurogroup president is to strike a deal on the European Recovery Fund.
The €750bn bailout plan aims to ease coming recession; however, members states have been unable to agreed how it should be divided – and how much of it should be offered as grants rather than loans.
Minister Donohoe said the people of Europe urgently need a deal.
“We are in the midst of a profound economic challenge,” he said.
“As we speak tonight, there are so many citizens here in Ireland and across Europe who are unsure if they will have a job or unsure of what their income is going to be tomorrow.
“So many employers worried if they might not be around next year.
“So, the number one priority has to be reaching an agreement in relation to the recovery fund and then implementing it.”
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin has welcomed the Finance Minister’s appointment.
“It is particularly important for Ireland and it is a great win for Ireland and very welcome for this country that in such a challenging time, in a key position now within the European framework and institutions, we have our Minister for Finance at the helm, chairing a very influential and important group,” he said.
“So, I salute Paschal for his success and we are delighted across the board here.”
Minister Donohoe will officially begin his new role on July 13th.