Europe is employing ‘double standards’ in demanding quick recovery of Apple money
European Commission ‘refuses’ to accept timeframes for its own investigations Brian Hayes says
he European Commission’s refusal to establish target timeframes for its antitrust investigations is a clear example of “double standards”, Brian Hayes MEP said on Tuesday, given its strict stance on a timeframe for the Apple state aid recovery. Photograph: CJ GUNTHER/EPA
The European Commission’s refusal to establish target timeframes for its antitrust investigations is a clear example of “double standards”, Brian Hayes MEP said on Tuesday, given its strict stance on a timeframe for the Apple state aid recovery.
Last month the Commisison referred Ireland to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to recover up to € 13 billion of illegal state aid from Apple, in a move which may ultimately lead to a fine. Ireland orginally had a deadline of four months to recover the amount, plus interest, in line with EU State Aid procedures, but had failed to meet the date of January 3rd 2017. It is now considered unlikely that the handover of the money will be completed before March of next year.
However, Mr Hayes argued that imposing a deadline on Ireland and referring it to the ECJ, when it won’t establish target timeframes for its own investigations, is a case of “grandstanding for political purposes”.
According to Mr Hayes, when the Commisison was asked to establish target timeframes for its antitrust investigations by the European Parliament, it “refused to accept that this would be a positive step forward for competition investigations”.
“This is a clear case of double standards when the Commission takes a tough stance on the Apple recovery timeline but is refusing to accept even target timeframes for its own investigations,” Mr Hayes said. “If the Commission is willing to take Ireland to court over recovery timelines, it should be able to adhere to the same standards and set target timeframes for the completion of antitrust investigations and state aid investigations.
Mr Hayes said that “so many”Commission investigations have dragged on for years, pointing to the ongoing Google investigation which has lasted almost eight years, the investigation into Gazprom has lasted over six years and the Apple case itself lasted over three years. Moreover, some countries have also taken time in recovery money. In the Belgian state aid case on excess profits for example, Commissioner Vestager said that the recovery has not been completed and this decision was announced eight months before the Apple decision.