Angela Lang / CNET
The European Commission (EC) has appealed the court ruling that overturned the record € 13 billion fine imposed on Apple in 2016 for tax arrears.
The appeal will be forwarded to the highest European court, which will render a final decision.
An illegal deal?
The question will be whether the agreement between Apple and the Irish tax authorities was legal, the EC alleging that the US company was granted 13 billion euros in illegal tax benefits.
The second-highest European court, however, refuted the claims, ruling in July that there was not enough evidence to show that the tech giant was breaking EU competition rules.
“The General Court annuls the contested decision because the Commission has not succeeded in demonstrating to the requisite legal standard the existence of an advantage within the meaning of Article 107 (1) TFEU”, specifies the judgment [PDF].
Fair competition in the EU
When announcing the appeal, the European Commission clarified that it considered that the court had committed “a number of errors in terms of law” in rendering its judgment.
“We must continue to use all the tools at our disposal to ensure that businesses pay their fair share of taxes. Otherwise, the public treasury and the citizens will be deprived of funds for essential investments, the need for which is even more pressing today to support the economic recovery of Europe ”, pleads Margrethe Vestager, vice-president of the European Commission.
“If member states grant certain multinational companies tax advantages that their rivals do not enjoy, this harms fair competition in the European Union, in violation of state aid rules,” she adds.
Recall of charges
The European Commission’s accusations against Apple date back to 2016, after a two-year investigation found that Ireland had twice granted the American firm advantages to reduce its tax share “substantially and artificially” .
The European Commission explained at the time that the agreements would have allowed Apple to allocate all the profits of two of its capital companies to a “head office” in Ireland, which had no employees and “would have could not generate such profits ”.