Vestager: Ireland “taking too long" to recover Apple tax

Fresh pressure from the European Commission...

Vestager: Ireland “taking too long" to recover Apple tax

Margrethe Vestager. Picture by: Yves Logghe / AP/Press Association Images

European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager has criticised Ireland over the length of time it is taking to recover unpaid Apple tax.

In an interview with CNBC, the Danish politician complained that the Government is "taking too long" on the issue but is hopeful that the €13 billion will be retrieved from the Cupertino tech giant "very soon".

Vestager also dismissed concerns that the European Commission's August 2016 ruling that Ireland had granted Apple illegal tax benefits would harm future investment in Europe.

"I haven't seen any evidence of that," she said.

A commission spokesperson echoed Vestager's sentiment that patience was running out, calling for "material progress to implement recover" of the back taxes. 

They stated:

"If member states fail to meet their obligation, the commission may decide to refer them to the EU courts for failure to implement a state aid decision, in line with the EU Treaty."

The deadline for the recovery was in early January, though the Department of Finance has justified the delay by saying that it is relatively standard practice and that it was currently working with both the EC and Apple on the issue.

A spokesperson for Finance Minister Michael Noonan said:

"Although the formal deadline has now passed, it is not unusual or uncommon for member states to require more time for recovery.

"Irish officials are continuing this intensive work to ensure that the State complies with all our recovery obligations as soon as possible, and remain in regular contact with the commission and Apple."

The EC noted that it was aware that some recoveries in these cases can be "more complex than in others, and thus may require some more time," but stressed that Ireland "must demonstrate progress on recovery".

The recovered money is set to be held in an escrow account while Ireland and Apple's legal challenges to the ruling go through the EU courts.