The Commission’s decision this week that Ireland since 1991 has granted illegal stated aid in the form of undue tax benefits to Apple and now has to recover up to € 13 billion plus interest from the company continues to arouse negative reactions from Apple, Ireland and the US. “Attack is the best form of defense”. Those affected by the decision have started to allege that the Commission decision was political. This was strongly rejected by Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, at a press conference today (1 September).
“It wasn’t a political decision,” she underlined. “The decision was totally based on the facts in the case after an in-depth investigation of the set-up of the Apple companies in Ireland.”
In response to US objections, she said that the case was clearly a matter of EU jurisdiction. “The sales took place in EU Member States and all revenue was recorded in Ireland.”
She was also asked how the Commission arrived at the figures in the decision – for example that Apple only paid an effective tax rate of 0.005 in 2014. “We got the figures from Apple and the hearing in the US senate, “ she replied.
Asked by The Brussels Times if not the Irish government should have considered whether its tax rulings to the benefit of Apple might violate EU state aid rules, she declined to comment.
“The tax rulings were secret and the Commission became aware of them only in 2013 after the US senate hearing,” she said. “What happened is a strong case for more transparency.”
The Commission has not yet published the non-confidential version of its decision on Apple. It will be published once any confidentiality issues with the parties concerned have been resolved.
Currently, the Commission is investigating a sample of tax rulings from all Member States to determine whether they are consistent with the state aid rules.
The Brussels Times