Public Affairs Networking
European Commission’s ruling on Apple turns political

Today’s European and U.S. media continue to analyse the aftermaths of the European Commission’s decision to fine Apple after it revealed the company would have benefited from Irish state aid.Many media report Apple CEO Tim Cook’s reaction to the European decision. He described it as a “total political nonsense”, as quoted by Süddeutsche Zeitung. The International New York Times writes that Mr Cook has called the ruling “maddening” and has expressed confidence it would be overturned. “This conclusion that the Commission has reached has no basis in law or in fact. So I think it clearly suggest that this is politics at play”, he said speaking to The Irish Independent, as quoted by The Daily Telegraph. He believes Apple was chosen on purpose, driven by anti-USA attitude, Magyar Idők reads. Britta Weddeling comments in Handelsblatt that Mr Cook’s aggressive reaction has revealed just how much pressure he faces, as he is now trying to position himself as an ally of the Irish people.

While Apple CEO criticised the amount “they [the European Commission] just picked (…) from I don’t know where”, Ms Vestager retorted that this amount was calculating using figures Apple provided, as well as data from a U.S. Senate hearing, The Wall Street Journal Europe notes. Another article from this newspaper quoted European Commissioner for Competition as saying that her decision was not political and that she was empowered by treaties to ensure companies aren’t getting an unfair handout from governments.

In his comment in Der Standard, Jörg Wojahn, Head of Representation of the European Commission in Vienna said that the decision concerning Apple demonstrates that the EC will not be cowed by the USA.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew believes that the EC is focused on American companies and spoils the conditions for international business in Europe, Gazeta Wyborcza writes. Ms Vestager states that she will meet with him in Washington in September and that they will discuss about the case, notes. All those comments lead to say that the EC ruling against Apple is turning into a real war of statements between the European Union and the USA.

In a tone of concern, Naftemporiki also comments that the conflict between Washington and Brussels Apple might turn into trade “war”. Le Monde’s editorial praises the European Commission’s decision; it deems “fair” and “strong”. The op-ed further reads that the Apple decision shows that Europe is changing, under the impulse of Commissioners Vestager and Moscovici, adding that its President Jean-Claude Juncker, who was rightly accused of organising tax evasion in Luxembourg, is now hunting it down.

According to Peter Suppli Benson of Berlingske, Ms Vestager’s criticism of Apple is refreshing at a time when so much in politics is decided behind closed doors and shows the way for a European Union in desperate need of a focal point. Information shares this point of view adding that Ms Vestager could be Europe’s best card against big business.

An El País editorial argues that the Apple tax ruling means a “vindication” for the EU against populism, and deserves to be supported. In an opinion piece in Svenska Dagbladet, Teresa Küchler argues that European Commission for Competition Margrethe Vestager has support from the public opinion concerning the investigation into the Apple tax issue in Ireland. In any event, The Irish Independent quotes Commissioner Phil Hogan as saying that all 28 Commission members supported the ruling.

On the contrary, former Commissioner Neelie Kroes thinks the European Commission made a mistake by fining Apple, Het Financieele Dagblad and De Tijd report. According to her, the institution exceeds its power and undermines the state of law. In Süddeutsche Zeitung, Bastian Brinkmann comments that Ireland now faces the dilemma of either accepting the €13 billion “for free”, or attempting to defend its reputation as a tax haven.

In The Financial Times, Vincent Boland writes that this file is further complicating the lives of Irish politicians who were already struggling to prepare for Britain’s exit from the EU. Moreover, The Guardian reports that Ireland could be forced to re-evaluate its annual GDP figures for the past decade following the EC ruling. Adding to the political instability, De Standaard reports that Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan wants to lodge an appeal, but that not all members of the government agree with that. Noel Whelan comments in The Irish Times that the “implications of the European Commission’s decision this week are truly massive” and that the events of the week have damaged “our reputation internationally” and also “our relationship with the European Union”.

In a more global perspective, in La Tribune, Romaric Godin points out that the Apple case highlights one of the main challenges of the post-Brexit EU: that of changing the economic logic and accepting the internal solidarity to avoid an “inevitable decline”. He believes that Europe must now choose its way: either accept internal solidarity or continue on the road to an “à la carte” Europe in which everyone is trying to maximise its national interest. A few media also report on the fact that the European Commission gave its green light to the merger between Hutchison (Tre) and VimpleCom (Wind) but on condition that there still be a fourth operator in Italy. Indeed, Commissioner Vestager said the EC approved the deal because both companies offered a strong remedy that enables a new mobile network operator, Iliad, to enter the Italian market, Simone Filippetti notes in Il Sole 24 Ore.




No comments yet
Submit a comment

Policy and networking for the digital age
Policy Review TV Neil Stewart Associates
© Policy Review | Policy and networking for the digital age 2024 | Log-in | Proudly powered by WordPress
Policy Review EU is part of the NSA & Policy Review Publishing Network