EU appeals against Apple ruling in $15 billion tax battle

European Commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager talks to media in Brussels, Belgium.

Thierry Monasse | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The battle between the EU and Apple on taxation is not over yet.

On Friday, the European Commission, which is the executive arm of the EU, said it would appeal a court ruling involving Apple and the Republic of Ireland. 

The EU’s general court ruled in July that the Commission had failed to prove that the Irish government had given a tax advantage to the tech giant.

The Commission’s team, led by the EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager, argued in 2016 that Apple had to repay 13 billion euros ($15.17 billion) in unpaid taxes to Ireland, after the latter granted “undue tax benefits” to the firm. 

However, both the Irish government and the tech giant contested the allegation. 

The European Commission will now take the case to the highest court in Europe.

“The Commission has decided to appeal before the European Court of Justice the General Court’s judgment of July 2020 on the Apple State aid case in Ireland,” Vestager said in a statement Friday.

Vestager said that the General Court raised “important legal issues” in its ruling, but “the Commission also respectfully considers that in its judgment the General Court has made a number of errors of law.

She highlighted that the same court had previously stated that member states need to respect EU treaties, despite being able to set up their own taxation laws.

“We have to continue to use all tools at our disposal to ensure companies pay their fair share of tax,” Vestager said.

July’s ruling challenged the way the Commission uses state aid policy to fight non-competitive deals. It asked the Commission to put forward more evidence in these situations — making it a potentially lengthy and complicated task.

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