EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager has vowed to continue her fight against illegal tax practices, just hours after an EU court overrode her order for Apple to pay €13 billion in back taxes.
"The (European) Commission will continue to look at aggressive tax planning measures under EU State aid rules to assess whether they result in illegal state aid", Vestager said.
On Wednesday, the European General Court overturned the decision of the European Commission to recover €13 billion of taxes from Apple, which, according to Brussels, Ireland did not receive.
"The General Court of the European Union annuls the decision taken by the Commission regarding the Irish tax rulings in favour of Apple. The General Court annuls the contested decision because the Commission did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard that there was an advantage for the purposes of Article 107(1) TFEU [the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU]," the press release said.
Under the article, any aid granted by an EU member state or through its resources in any form, which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain businesses or the production of certain goods will be incompatible with the internal market, as it affects trade between member states.
Both Ireland and Apple welcomed the court's decision.
In late August 2016, the European Commission concluded that Ireland provided unjustified tax relief to Apple amounting to slightly under €13 billion. Subsequently, the US company was requested to return unpaid taxes for the period from 2003 to 2014. Both Apple and the EU authorities appealed the claim.