European Commission will appeal €14.3bn Apple tax ruling

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said 'the General Court has made a number of errors of law' in its judgement
European Commission will appeal €14.3bn Apple tax ruling

EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said ensuring all companies, big and small, pay their fair share of tax remains a top priority for the Commission. Picture: Stephanie Lecocq

The European Commission is to appeal the €14.3bn Apple tax ruling that ruled in favour of Apple and Ireland in relation to the tech giants tax affairs in the state.

Last month, the General Court of the European Union ruled that Apple did not need to pay €14.3bn to the Republic, annulling the Commission's decision of August 2016 finding that Ireland granted illegal State aid to Apple through selective tax breaks.

In a statement, Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said the Commission “respectfully considers that in its judgment the General Court has made a number of errors of law.” 

“Making sure that all companies, big and small, pay their fair share of tax remains a top priority for the Commission.” 

Ms Vestager said while Member States have competence in determining their taxation laws taxation, “they must do so in respect of EU law, including State aid rules.” 

“If Member States give certain multinational companies tax advantages not available to their rivals, this harms fair competition in the European Union in breach of State aid rules.” 

Minister for Finance Pascal Donohue said the Irish branches of the relevant Apple companies paid the full amount of tax due in accordance with the law. Picture: Sam Boal
Minister for Finance Pascal Donohue said the Irish branches of the relevant Apple companies paid the full amount of tax due in accordance with the law. Picture: Sam Boal

The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD, said the facts of the case, as established by the GCEU, demonstrate, “that no State aid was given and that the Irish branches of the relevant Apple companies paid the full amount of tax due in accordance with the law.” 

“Ireland has always been clear that the correct amount of Irish tax was paid and that Ireland provided no State aid to Apple. Ireland appealed the Commission Decision on that basis and the judgement from the General Court of the European Union vindicates this stance.” 

“Ireland has not yet been served with formal notice of the appeal. When it is received, the Government will need to take some time to consider, in detail, the legal grounds set out in the appeal and to consult with the Government’s legal advisors, in responding to this appeal,” he finished.

In 2016, following a three-year investigation, the European Commission alleged that Ireland had provided State aid to two Apple companies.

Ireland appealed this decision in late 2016 and there was an oral hearing before the General Court in September 2019.

The General Court of the European Union issued its judgement in the Apple State Aid case on 15 July 2020 annulling the European Commission Decision.

The European Commission has lodged an appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). A summary of the appeal will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and the appeal will be served on Ireland and on all parties to the proceedings before the General Court.

This appeal process could take up to two years to complete. The funds in Escrow will only be released when there has been a final determination in the European Courts on the validity of the Commission’s Decision.

Apple employs up to 6,000 people in Ireland, most of whom are located in two centres in Cork.

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