Apple court triumph forces tough choice for Vestager’s EU tax crusade

Apple’s July court triumph over a massive European Union tax grab is forcing antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager to make a tough choice: Challenge a ruling that faulted the EU investigation or accept judges’ criticisms and re-examine a case started more than six years ago.

Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition
Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition
Aoife White and Stephanie Bodoni for Bloomberg:

The EU targeted big names, triggering changes to taxation across Europe. The 13 billion-euro ($15.4 billion) demand for Apple was its crowning achievement.

“The European Commission may very likely appeal the judgment of the General Court in the Apple case, if only to save face,” said Howard Liebman, a tax attorney with Jones Day in Brussels. “It will be a very rough row to hoe, given the very detailed and fact-oriented decision“ from the EU’s second-highest tribunal.

If Vestager opts to fight on at the EU Court of Justice, the bloc’s top tribunal, she risks overlooking criticism that the EU failed to prove “to the requisite legal standard” that Ireland’s tax deal broke state-aid law by giving the iPhone maker an unfair advantage.

The commission, the EU’s executive arm, has already had to re-investigate some 40 probes following court decisions that picked apart its findings.

MacDailyNews Take: Miraculously, justice has been served. Give it up, Margrethe.

A company’s business success, regardless of degree, doesn’t mean some quasi-governmental political confederation headed by a dingbat gets to retroactively grab whatever sum they want.MacDailyNews, July 15, 2020

The dunce Vestager is out of her depth.

Is Ireland its own country or merely a vassal state to a quasi-governmental political confederation that’s already been hit with one very significant defection?

The EU’s retroactive tax grab is a farce. — MacDailyNews, October 4, 2017

I think that Apple was targeted here. And I think that (anti-US sentiment) is one reason why we could have been targeted. People in leadership positions in several countries tell me that this is the agenda. I don’t know where that comes from. But what I feel strongly about is that this decision was politically based, of that I’m very confident. There is no reason for it in fact or in law… At a worldwide level, Apple pays income tax of 26.1 percent… I’d be the first to say that the tax system needs to be reformed and that it should be made simple and straightforward. But it should be talked about going forward, not in a way that retrofits the law to what others wish it was. It’s patently unfair and not what you expect from a developed country that has a history of rule and law.Apple CEO Tim Cook, September 1, 2016


  1. The EU. Their continued faceless bureaucracy continues to tell companies what to do. TELL them. This is Socialism 101: Government controls the means of production.

    A step further, if Fascism, in where Government owns the businesses. Doing that, there is no one to blame but themselves. Socialism works much better. If a company fails not our fault.

    Who knows what Apple would have come up with beyond the lightening connector, but we’ll never know, as the EU forced every company into USB-C. That’s the type of lack of competition that will NOT propel the industry forward – at all!

    Rather, imagine Apple had Lighening II ready to roll. It did everything xx amount better than USB-C, and used less material, more environmentally friendly, daisy chain, on and on.

    USB-C would be forced to get that consortium together and work on something better all around.

    But now? Uh no. Not so much.

    This is but one of hundreds of examples where the EU is grinding companies and nations into the ground for the sake of their own power.

    Oh, and there is always money. Need more, just tax the hell out companies and people.

    Margaret Thatcher: The problem with Socialism is, eventually you run out of other people’s money… Venezuela anyone?…

    1. Nobody likes a sore winner. Apple won this round of litigation and the European Commission lost. If they do not appeal by Friday, Apple gets its money back, the US Treasury gets some additional taxes, and Ireland has vindicated its tax policies. The legal system worked because the EU has an independent judiciary. Take the win and stop griping.

    2. You need to brush up on your political systemsvs. economic systems.
      Hitler was a fascist that killed communists. Stalin the same.
      McCarthey was a fascist that ruined lives.

    3. faceless bureaucracy ?????

      Not only did MDN personally attack Vestager, they posted a pic.

      Mind you, MDN loves it when the current corrupt US administration appoints completely unqualified temporary department heads without congressional confirmation.

      The EU is vastly more transparent than the US in many ways. A simple review of their websites shows that the EU has stated goals, progress reports, and public discussions. The US in contrast gets bombastic tweets.

      Both EU and US are bureaucratic. But the EU works on behalf of the greater good, and the US is divided and conquered by oligarchs that take all the gains and socialize all the losses.

      Wake up!

  2. Capitalist Apple was simply following Capitalist law to which the EU agreed so Margrethe Vestager should have waged her anti-Apple and, really, anti-Capitlist fight, by attempting to change the law instead. The core problem, of course, is not Vestager’s method but Capitalism itself.

    1. The “law” in question here is an international treaty that can only be changed by unanimous consent of all 27 EU member countries. How do you suggest that Ms. Vestager persuade Ireland and the other tax-shelter nations to vote against their own interest?

  3. As I have always said how can Ireland itself not have been culpable in this deal if it had been proved illegal. How could it possibly be fair to give them the bonus of having been a willing party to that illegality that they get their money back for that deal that very likely disadvantaged its competitors seeking the investment but didn’t offer an illegal deal. No logic at all.

  4. The EU is so out of touch with reality. I feel for its citizenry, having their sovereign power stripped away. Once proud people being forced to bow and accept third world BS and now this mega-lib bureaucratic pandering. Just one look at Vestager and you know exactly the type you are dealing with.

  5. I am a shocked that some posters here don’t seem to understand the “hows & whys” of tax breaks. If done with care by both sides of the deal it’s a win-win for all parties. It’s not some evil deception

    1. If Ireland had offered the special tax break to all companies, no problem. But as you know, unscrupulous politicians have many temptations to cut smoky backroom deals with their corporate buddies. That should be illegal but graft is a never ending whack a mole game.

      Funny how nobody here is praising EU transparency. In the USA, everything becomes a duopoly because of bipolar politics and laws bent to give all power to the richest corporations. 75% of startups stand no chance to be anything but a takeover target. On MDN, you seem to like this uncompetitive market situation. Cronyism at its finest.

  6. “The commission, the EU’s executive arm, has already had to re-investigate some 40 probes following court decisions that picked apart its findings.”

    Clearly, sloppy work if they have to go back and re-do 40 probes. Maybe the EU Commission should hire better lawyers. That has to be a huge legal bill for EU taxpayers that has gone to waste. A few cases being re-investigated would seem to be normal, but 40! That has to be most of their work.

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