During the European Commission's structured Dialogue with EU's Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager held on October 10, the Commissioner defended the position of the Commission on the Apple Ireland case.
The Competition Commissioner stressed that the EU does not have a problem with the 12,5 percent corporate tax rate in Ireland. Vestager said that the EU "want to be sure that tax rulings are not being used to grant selective advantages to companies through the backdoor."
Bernd Lucke (ECR, DE) has raised the question whether the Commission's argumentation of Apple receiving selective advantage is valid. He pointed out that the Commission has not compared Apple to its competitors so could not conclude that Apple received selective tax advantages. He said that "as you can't actually name any companies that you compared with Apple, then your ruling is based on the idea that other companies wouldn't be able to get these advantages. So it is just a suspicion that it might be some tax advantage there. It seems to be a courageous approach."
Margrethe Vestager responded that "it does not really work like that" as "sometimes companies become so big that they hardly have competitors." The commissioner continued that what the commission looked at was the principle of selectivity in comparison to the general system. She said that the outcome has to be with market conformity and that in Apple case, there was no market conformity.
Vestager further spoke corporate tax rulings to state aid for banks, to legislative initiatives and to the different cases against Google. She underlined the importance of a functioning market place and of ongoing legislation, like the proposed country-by-country reporting on employee numbers, profits made and taxes paid (in the Accounting standards Directive), a European list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, and the recently adopted anti-tax avoidance directive.
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