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In 2016 the Commission adopted a decision2 concerning two tax rulings issued by the Irish tax authorities (Irish Revenue) on 29 January 1991 and 23 May 2007 in favour of Apple Sales International (ASI) and Apple Operations Europe (AOE), which were companies incorporated in Ireland but not tax resident in Ireland.

The contested tax rulings endorsed the methods used by ASI and AOE to determine their chargeable profits in Ireland, relating to the trading activity of their respective Irish branches. The 1991 tax ruling remained in force until 2007, when it was replaced by the 2007 tax ruling. The 2007 tax ruling then remained in force until Apple’s new business structure was implemented in Ireland in 2014.

By its decision, the Commission considered that the tax rulings in question constituted State aid unlawfully put into effect by Ireland. The aid was declared incompatible with the internal market. The Commission demanded the recovery of the aid in question. According to the Commission’s calculations, Ireland had granted Apple 13 billion euro in unlawful tax advantages.

By today’s judgment, 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. According to the General Court, the Commission was wrong to declare that ASI and AOE had been granted a selective economic advantage and, by extension, State aid.

General Court considers that the Commission incorrectly concluded, in its primary line of reasoning, that the Irish tax authorities had granted ASI and AOE an advantage as a result of not having allocated the Apple Group intellectual property licences held by ASI and AOE, and, consequently, all of ASI and AOE’s trading income, obtained from the Apple Group’s sales outside North and South America, to their Irish branches. According to the General Court, the Commission should have shown that that income represented the value of the activities actually carried out by the Irish branches themselves, in view of, inter alia, the activities and functions actually performed by the Irish branches of ASI and AOE, on the one hand, and the strategic decisions taken and implemented outside of those branches, on the other.

Read the Press Release here: PRESS RELEASE

Image Credit: Bloomberg

Business NewsNews

European Commission prohibits proposed “Joint Venture” between, Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp.

According to the European Commission’s investigation merger would have led to higher prices for steel products that are used as inputs by the packaging industry and car manufacturers. This would have harmed European competitiveness in these sectors and led to higher prices for consumers buying canned food or cars.

Commission further stated that, the proposed merger between Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp would have brought together the second and third largest flat carbon steelmakers in Europe, behind ArcelorMittal

Reason for prohibiting the merger

For steel products used in the packaging sector, Tata and ThyssenKrupp proposed to divest only a small part of the overlap between their activities. The assets proposed for divestment were largely located in the UK or depended on intermediate steel products from the UK. The merged entity would have retained the best production assets of both companies.

For automotive steel products, the companies proposed to divest only limited capacities, which were insufficient for any competitor to act as a real challenger in this market.


The Commission concluded its decision by stating that,

“We are also equally concerned with protecting our steel industry itself from unfair trade distortions from third countries. My colleague Cecilia Malmström is leading our efforts to fully use the trade defence toolbox, including through imposing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties.”

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The Council of the EU and the Commission found a political agreement to make the copyright rules fit for digital era in Europe and bring tangible benefits to all creative sectors, the press, researchers, educators, cultural heritage institutions, and citizens.

Better protection for European authors and performers and for journalism

The new Directive reinforces the position of European authors and performers in the digital environment and enhances high-quality journalism in the EU. In particular, it brings:

–  Tangible benefits to all creative sectors, specifically creators and actors in the audio-visual and musical sectors, by reinforcing their position vis-à-vis platforms to have more control over the use of their content uploaded by users on these platforms and be remunerated for it.

– The principle of an appropriate and proportionate remuneration for authors and performers will be laid down for the first time in European copyright law.

– Authors and performers will enjoy access to transparent information on how their works and performances are exploited by their counterparts (publishers and producers). This will make it easier for them to negotiate future contracts and to receive a fairer share of the generated revenues.

– If publishers or producers fail to exploit the rights that authors and performers have transferred to them, authors and performers will be allowed to revoke their rights.

–  European press publishers will enjoy a new right, which aims to facilitate the way they negotiate how their content is re-used on online platforms. It will give journalists the right to receive a greater share of the revenues generated by the online uses of press publications. This right will not affect citizens and individual users, who will continue to enjoy and share news hyperlinks as they do today.

New rules to reinforce the interests of citizens and internet users

Users will benefit from the new licencing rules which will allow them to upload copyright-protected content on platforms like YouTube or Instagram legally. They will also benefit from safeguards linked to the freedom of expression when they upload videos that contain rightholders’ content, i.e. in memes or parodies. The interests of the users are preserved through effective mechanisms to swiftly contest any unjustified removal of their content by the platforms.

The new Directive will ensure wider access to knowledge by simplifying copyright rules in the areas of text and data mining for research and other purposes, education and preservation of cultural heritage:

  •  Research organisations, universities, and other users will be able to make the most of the increasing number of publications and data available online for research or other purposes as they will benefit from a copyright exception to carry out text and data mining on large sets of data. This will also enhance the development of data analytics and artificial intelligence in Europe.
  • Students and teachers will be able to use copyrighted materials in online courses, including across borders, for the purposes of illustration for teaching.
  • The preservation of cultural heritage in the collections of European museums, archives and other cultural heritage institutions will have no copyright restrictions.

Users will also have access to works, films or music records that are no longer commercially available in Europe today, as well as wider variety of European audiovisual works on video-on-demand (VoD) platforms.

They will be completely free to share copies of paintings, sculptures and other works of art in the public domain with full legal certainty.

Copyright Reform: Commission welcomes European Parliament’s vote in favour of modernised rules fit for digital age

European Parliament voted in favour of the new Copyright Directive designed to bring tangible benefits to citizens, all creative sectors, the press, researchers, educators, and cultural heritage institutions.

Next Step

European Parliament will now need to be formally endorsed by the Council of the European Union in the coming weeks. Once published on the Official Journal of the EU, Member States will have 24 months to transpose the new rules into their national legislation.


In September 2016 the European Commission proposed modernising EU Copyright rules for European culture to flourish and circulate, as part of the Digital Single Market strategy.

The EU Copyright reform is a priority file for the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission. It modernises EU copyright rules which date back to 2001, when there were no social media, no video on demand, no museums digitising their art collections and no teacher providing online courses.

Press Release

European Commission

Hot Off The PressNews

“Spotify” is a digital music, podcast, and video streaming service that gives you access to millions of songs and other content from artists all over the world.

As reported by media, on 13-03-2019, Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission.

The crux of the issue is that Spotify has alleged Apple to be creating an unfair ecosystem by deliberately disadvantaging other app developers. Daniel Ek, Founder, and CEO of Spotify in his blogpost stated that Apple requires Spotify and other digital services to pay 30% tax on purchases made through Apple’s payment system, including upgrading Spotify’s Free to Premium service. He further states that if they choose not to use Apple’s payment system, and forgo the charge, then Apple applies a number of “technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify.”

Spotify alleges that Apple uses its ownership over iOS and the App Store to impose an ‘Apple tax’ that stifles competition.

[Source: The Verge]

Image Credits: ITPRO