Amid the European Commission’s Apple ruling and talk of a hard Brexit, Ireland must now reimagine its disparate relationships with corporate America and social Europe. At a public event in Trinity Long Room Hub on Monday October 17th, Trinity experts discussed the implications of ‘Brexit, Brussels and the Big Apple’ to figure out what Ireland’s next move should be.
The ‘Behind the Headlines’ event teased out a number of questions, including issues around Ireland’s sovereignty, historical and cultural relationships with Europe and the US, and our reputation and sustainability in a globalised world, following Brexit and the Apple ruling.
Four Trinity experts, from economics, German and history, spoke at the event:
The history and politics of taxation in the US
Mark Pigott Associate Professor in American History Daniel Geary posed the question on many people’s lips - how did we get to the point where Apple could pay so little tax? He examined the issue from the American perspective, exploring the politics of taxation in the US since Ronald Reagan and the pressure that corporations have brought to bear.
“The real issue is not one pitting separate EU versus US models and where Ireland should align itself. It has to do with how multinationals can be fairly taxed and how that should be enforced.”
The alternatives to EU membership for Ireland
Emeritus Professor of Economics John O’Hagan reflected on alternatives to EU membership for Ireland, dispelling six key myths along the way.
“Brexit means that this question needs to be addressed and answered. The Apple decision is irrelevant, as establishing a common tax base for corporate profits is a global issue, not specific to the EU, and has been on the agenda for more than 20 years.”
Why Ireland is better in Europe
Professor in German Mary Cosgrove reminded us why Ireland is better off remaining in the EU. Joining the EU helped transform us from a nation of poor farmers to a wealthy knowledge economy, and while the multinationals are credited for creating thousands of jobs, we shouldn’t underestimate membership in the single market as a factor in our wealth generation.
“Now is not the time to start badmouthing the EU; it has been dealt a blow with Brexit, there is populist trouble brewing across the continent and further exits will destabilise the region with unknown outcomes.”
Can the centre hold?
Trinity Business School Adjunct Assistant Professor David McWilliams illustrate that while Brexit has revealed a profound lack of political leadership in the UK, it is also a huge opportunity for Ireland. We can’t turn our back on the multinationals already here, so what is our next step?
The Trinity Long Room Hub is Trinity’s arts and humanities research institute. Their ‘Behind the Headlines’ discussion series offers background analyses to current issues by experts drawing on the long-term perspectives of arts and humanities research. It aims to provide a forum that deepens understanding, combats simplification and polarization and thus creates space for informed and respectful public discourse. Previous public talks in the series were: Destination Europe: Reflections on the Refugee Crisis, The Embrace of Love: Being Gay in Ireland Now and After Charlie Hebdo: A Public Forum of Religion, Freedom and Human Rights.