Ireland has opposed a move to unblock EU legislation, first proposed in the wake of the Lux Leaks scandal in 2016, relating to tax transparency for multinationals.

The so-called "country-by-country reporting" rules would require multinationals to publicly report what profits they make, how much tax they pay, and where they pay it.

The Irish government argues that the rules are being adopted on the wrong legal basis and has insisted that Dublin will "engage constructively" on the legislation, which is not yet law, as it progresses.

Oxfam Ireland has criticised the government's position.

"It is really disappointing that Ireland voted against this basic tax transparency measure. This proposal is a vital step towards making sure that multinational corporations pay their fair share of taxes, in developing as well as developed countries," said Oxfam Ireland chief executive Jim Clarken.

Today a majority of EU competition ministers supported the transparency measure in an informal video session, meaning it is one step closer to becoming EU law.

In the past five years a blocking minority of 11 member states - including Ireland - held the proposal back.

The country-by-country reporting proposal was first launched by the European Commission in 2016 following the Lux Leaks scandal two years earlier, which alleged widespread tax avoidance by global corporations.

It emerged in 2019 that Germany, Cyprus, Malta, Austria, Slovenia, Estonia, Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden had opposed the proposals for various reasons.

Ireland has argued that the proposals should have been dealt with by finance ministers as it relates to taxation, and not competition ministers, who deal with internal market rules.

The government has said the legal service of the Council, which represents member states, has supported this position.

In his intervention during today's public session, Minister of State Robert Troy said: "We support transparency and good governance. We consider that this measure should have developed tax expertise to ensure that it is consistent with existing requirements and importantly with the international cooperation exchange of information arrangements which are based on confidentiality.

"Tax experts are best placed to ensure that international efforts to collect income tax from multinational corporations will not be undermined by new measures." 

A spokesperson for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETI) said that the Dáil had adopted a Reasoned Opinion in June 2016 that the country-by-country reporting directive was a taxation matter and hence unanimity should be required. 

The spokesperson said: "Ireland will engage constructively in future negotiations on this Proposal."

The proposal will be formally adopted by member states next week and will be subject to further negotiation with the European Parliament.