On 30 August 2016, the European Commission announced its decision in the Apple State aid investigation. The Commission concluded that “two tax rulings issued by Ireland to Apple have substantially and artificially lowered the tax paid by Apple in Ireland since 1991” which, in its view, breached EU State aid rules. Ireland was instructed to recover the unpaid taxes from Apple for the years 2003 to 2014, which the Commission estimated could be up to €13 billion (plus interest). The Commission stated, however, that the amount of unpaid taxes to be recovered by the Irish authorities would be reduced if other countries were to lay claim to the underlying profit. The Commission noted that the decision “does not call into question Ireland’s general tax system or its corporate tax rate”.
On 2 September 2016, the Government of Ireland announced that it was appealing the decision of the European Commission. The Irish Government published a summary of the legal arguments in its appeal of the decision by the European Commission in the Apple State aid case.
The General Court of the European Union heard the Irish Government’s appeal on 17 and 18 September 2019. The Irish Government published an Overview of Ireland’s position at the Oral Hearing at the General Court of the European Union in the Apple State aid case on 17 September.
The General Court of the European Union delivered its judgment on 15 July 2020, in which it annulled the decision taken by the European Commission in the Apple State aid case. The General Court found that the European Commission “did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard” that there was any illegal State aid.
The Court determined:
The European Commission confirmed on 25 September 2020 that it is appealing the decision of the General Court to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
On 9 November 2023, the Opinion of the Advocate General was published. In his Opinion, the Advocate General proposes the judgment of the General Court of the European Union on ‘tax rulings’ adopted by Ireland be set aside and the case be referred back to the General Court for a new decision on the merits.
The Advocate General analyses the legal aspects of the case in detail and, separately from the deliberations of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), provides an Opinion regarding the issue being heard. This Opinion does not form part of the CJEU’s judgment but is considered by the Court when arriving at its final judgment. Following the Advocate General’s Opinion, the CJEU’s judgment will be pronounced in open Court. The timing of the judgment is at the discretion of the CJEU.
November 2023 – Full text of the Opinion of Advocate General Pitruzzella
November 2023 – Court of Justice of the European Union Press Release
September 2016 – Department of Finance Press Release
August 2016 – European Commission Press Release
August 2016 – Apple Press Release
In advance of the Dáil debate on 7 September 2016 that discussed the Government’s decision to appeal the ruling, the Institute published A Guide To Changes In Irish Tax Rules – The Global Tax Reform Agenda.