Apple’s dearth of European lobbyists kept company out of loop in EC tax decision for two years

“Apple Inc. is battling the European Commission’s call to fork over €13 billion ($14.5 billion) in back taxes without the army of lobbyists and public relations campaigners typical in such fights,” Natalia Drozdiak reports for The Wall Street Journal. “The iPhone maker spent less than €900,000 in 2015 to lobby the EU institutions and doesn’t employ any full-time lobbyists here; only five people work part-time, according to public filings. By contrast, Alphabet Inc.’s Google spent at least €4.25 million last year and employs more than 10 people.”

“Apple was unsuccessful in gathering information over the last two years from the commission about the evolving theory the EU was resting its case on, said people familiar with the matter,” Drozdiak reports. “The EU recently surpassed the U.S. in terms of the number of registered organizations lobbying its institutions, according to Transparency International. As of Sept. 7, the EU registered 9,756 organizations, compared with 9,726 in the U.S.”

“Some chief executives, including Apple’s Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, have made the trek to Brussels to clarify their positions directly with the EU’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager,” Drozdiak reports. “A top Google executive recently stressed the importance of ‘educating’” EU lawmakers about how the company works.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Sounds like a vestige of the Steve Jobs era where Apple had nary a presence in Washington D.C., either.

Money makes D.C. – and the E.C. – go ’round.

Apple boosts U.S. federal government lobbying efforts by 16% in Q1 – April 22, 2015
Apple steps up lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. – May 24, 2013
Apple is taking a bruising in Washington D.C. as lobbying effort has yet to ripen – May 9, 2012
With antitrust mutters growing, Apple triples federal lobbying expenses, boosts D.C. presence – April 9, 2011
Apple hires new D.C. lobbyists, former G. W. Bush staffers to influence U.S. federal government – February 5, 2011

Ireland’s Finance Minister Noonan: Apple tax appeal may take four years, maybe more – September 23, 2016
Apple’s EU tax nemesis Margrethe Vestager takes aim at other U.S. companies’ offshore profits – September 19, 2016
The ‘Brexit-Apple’ connection: What in the world was Margrethe Vestager thinking? – September 12, 2016
EU ministers line up to take tax bites out of Apple – September 12, 2016
Former EU competition commissioner: Vestager claim that Apple owes back taxes an incorrect use of EU law – September 2, 2016


    1. Apple cares. If it wants to sell product in the EU, it needs to play by the rules.

      Apple has been paying an effective 0.5% tax rate through complicated sweetheart deals — that is not legal and no amount of lobbying is going to fix that. Maybe in the USA that’s how corrupt business works, but it’s not going to be the norm in Europe.

      You may recall that until Microsoft actively killed them, Nokia was the best selling and very highly respected cell phone manufacturer. Don’t assume that in 10 years or less that Apple won’t be considered the new Microsoft and some new innovator could produce a more user-friendly, cost-effective product. It happens regularly when leadership of a former underdog becomes too big and bureaucratic to steer itself. And look, Apple can’t even get Mac hardware updated. Signs of things to come, methinks.

  1. Note to MDN: You have a circular link at time of posting.

    The Wall Street article entitled “Apple Goes Without a Lobby Into European Fray” seems to be indicative of what I read in the politico article “How Vestager Took a Bite out of Apple”. That particular article gives an insight into the meeting that Tim Cook had with Vestager

    “CEO Tim Cook did not plead the company’s case with Brussels until January 2016, two-and-a-half years after the probe was launched. When he did, his arguments missed their mark.

    Vestager was well into the second half of her investigation, and she was unlikely to be swayed by the platitudes and buzzwords Cook came prepared to deliver. Nor did Cook advance his cause when he spent a one-on-one meeting interrupting and talking over her, according to those briefed on the encounter. Apple declined at the time to comment about the meeting.”

    Now one should not forget that while the media will have a field day focusing this issue as between Apple and the EU, Ireland in my view is the potential culprit. After all they set up the tax situation with Apple, from what I understand Apple was following what they understood was Ireland’s law and as such Ireland should be the ones paying the difference as they are the ones who broke the law. I’m apt to change my mind as more information is revealed about the case but so far the analogy seems to me….

    You go for a meal in a restaurant and pay for it. After you leave the owner of the restaurant chases after you and wants you to pay extra for the meal cause the waiter made a mistake and undercharged you. Seems to me that it’s the waiter that should be paying the difference.

    Anyway we’ll see.

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