Unilever has been mulling moving its domicile from Holland (OK, the United Kingdom of Holland and the Netherlands) to the United Kingdom – you know, the real one that doesn’t have to be specified by the geography, as with not needing the country name on the stamps. The proper place that is, where God’s language is spoken for ain’t the Bible in it?
OK, pretty cool. And some Dutch politicians have decided that vast taxation should apply to this move. And why not, that’s democracy, right? The people elect the politicians and they get to decide who gains the cash.
Unilever has vowed to proceed with plans to cancel its Dutch listing, even as lawmakers in the Netherlands threaten it with an €11 billion tax bill.
The maker of Marmite, Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is aiming to unify its stock market listings by the end of next month in a move intended to make it easier for the group to buy and sell businesses.
Groenlinks, a Dutch opposition party, has put a hurdle in its path and has drawn up a bill that would impose an “exit” penalty on Unilever.
The thing being no, you can’t do that.
Yesterday the Dutch Council of State, which advises the country’s parliament on the legality of bills, said that the proposal would violate basic principles of the rule of law. If enacted, “the chance that this proposal will turn out to be not legally sustainable is so great that (we) consider introducing it irresponsible”, it said. The parliament is not bound to follow the council’s advice, but it usually does.
Groenlinks, which stands for Green Left, responded by modifying its proposed legislation. “Unilever is threatening to leave the Netherlands with its pockets full so that shareholders can avoid taxes,” it said.
Maybe it is but the rule of law beats democracy. Which is how it should be too of course.
Oh, sure, democracy can be used to change what the law is. Except here it can’t because it’s European Union law that determines no exit taxes, not Dutch. And as we all know there’s no democracy in the EU, you’ve got to have Hollexit to gain that.