The European Commission showed no anti-américain “bias” by imposing a 13 billion euros penalty upon Apple. The Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, confirmed this yesterday (Monday).
“If you look into our practices, you will not find any anti-american bias,” confirmed Ms Vestager in Washington, where she was, in particular, meeting the American Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew.
Taken at the end of August, the European decision to force Apple to repay 13 billion euros to Ireland for illegal state aid, provoked a political storm in the US.
Across the pond, the authorities are accusing the EU of targeting American multinationals in priority.
The European Commissioner patently acknowledged the need to “talk” with Washington to explain her decision but however ensured that no figure was allowed to support the argument of “some kind of [anti-American] bias.”
Of some 150 decisions made by the Commission since 2000 for illegal state aid, only “2%” concern American businesses, confirmed Ms Vestager during a press conference.
The opening of the inquiry targeting the French group Engie (previously known as GDF Suez) for tax aid received from Luxembourg provides, she says, a further demonstration of Commission neutrality.
“It is a further illustration of the fact that we have no bias based upon the nationality” of companies. Ms Vestager stated this, whilst manifestly displaying her iPhone, made by Apple, to show her attachment to American products.
Jack Lew, for his part, “reiterated his fears of seeing the European Commission applying a new approach to state aid retrospectively, contrary to the legal principles in force,” one of his spokesmen revealed.
He went on, “This also challenges the rule (that) taxation is the remit of each country and that this threatens to undermine the business climate in Europe.”
The situation around these issues remains tight on both sides of the Atlantic.
Ms Vestager however rejected the idea of the 14 billion dollar action, which the US is threatening the German bank Deutsche Bank with, for causing the so-called “subprime”crisis, is a form of reprisal for the Apple decision.
She confirmed, “I am entirely convinced that the decision to sue Deutsche Bank decision is based upon the relevant facts and American legislation.”