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Apple's EU State Aid Challenge Faces Procedural Concerns Following Advocate General's Opinion

The opinion from the advocate general of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), recommending the dismissal of Apple's €14.3 billion ($15.31 billion) EU state aid challenge, has raised concerns over procedural fairness, particularly from tax disputes lawyer Adam Craggs. The tech giant has been challenging the European Commission's assertion that it received an unfair tax advantage in the EU through transfer pricing deals with Ireland.

Apple's EU State Aid Challenge Faces Procedural Concerns Following Advocate General's Opinion

Adam Craggs, the head of tax disputes at RPC in London, highlights the procedural concerns surrounding the case. He points out that the rulings in question date back to 1991, leading to a serious debate about the procedural fairness of a system that takes such an extended period to reach a definitive result regarding historic tax matters.

Although advocate general Giovanni Pitruzzella's legal opinion is non-binding and doesn't represent a final verdict, such opinions often carry significant weight in influencing the CJEU's judgments. Craggs notes that while the CJEU is not obligated to follow the advocate general's opinion, it is likely to find it highly persuasive in practice.

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Matthew Oliver, a corporate tax partner at Osborne Clarke in the UK, acknowledges that the opinion represents a setback for Apple in its long-running dispute. He notes that while the advocate general's opinion is not binding, it can be persuasive in shaping the final judgments made by the CJEU.

Despite the advocate general's opinion, Craggs believes that this intervention does not signal the end of the matter. He mentions that the recommendation to refer the case back to the General Court for a fresh decision after the CJEU reaches its verdict suggests that the saga is far from over.

The case originated in 2016 when the European Commission found that the Irish government granted Apple illegal state aid through tax rulings. Consequently, the Commission ordered Ireland to collect €13.1 billion from Apple in back taxes. This disputed amount has since grown to €14.3 billion. In 2020, the EU's General Court ruled that Brussels failed to show that Apple received an economic tax advantage in Ireland, leading to the recent opinion from the advocate general and the ongoing legal uncertainties surrounding the case.



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