The European Commission is to appeal the Apple case, according to a statement issued by Margrethe Vestager, an executive vice-president of the Commission. 

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the European Court of Justice (ECJ) had made a number of "errors of law" when it rejected the Commission's case against Apple and Ireland in July. 

In a decision in August 2016, the European Commission held that the US tech giant owed Ireland €13 billion in unpaid taxes, because an alleged tax arrangement granted to Apple had amounted to illegal state aid. 

Both Ireland and Apple appealed the decision. 

In July, the General Court of the ECJ found in favour of Ireland and Apple, ruling that the Commission had not met the legal standard required in establishing that the company had enjoyed selective and preferential treatment in the way Ireland treated it for tax reasons. 

"The Commission has decided to appeal before the European Court of Justice the General Court's judgment of July 2020 on the Apple State aid case in Ireland, which annulled the Commission's decision of August 2016 finding that Ireland granted illegal State aid to Apple through selective tax breaks," the Competition Commissioner said today.

"The General Court judgment raises important legal issues that are of relevance to the Commission in its application of State aid rules to tax planning cases," she stated.  

"The Commission also respectfully considers that in its judgment the General Court has made a number of errors of law. For this reason, the Commission is bringing this matter before the European Court of Justice," Margrethe Vestager said.

"Making sure that all companies, big and small, pay their fair share of tax remains a top priority for the Commission. The General Court has repeatedly confirmed the principle that, while member states have competence in determining their taxation laws, they must do so in respect of EU law, including State aid rules," she said. 

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"If member states give certain multinational companies tax advantages not available to their rivals, this harms fair competition in the European Union in breach of State aid rules. We have to continue to use all tools at our disposal to ensure companies pay their fair share of tax. Otherwise, the public purse and citizens are deprived of funds for much needed investments - the need for which is even more acute now to support Europe's economic recovery," she added. 

"We need to continue our efforts to put in place the right legislation to address loopholes and ensure transparency. So, there's more work ahead  including to make sure that all businesses, including digital ones, pay their fair share of tax where it is rightfully due," the Commissioner stated.

The commission had two months and ten days within which to appeal the decision to the higher European court, the Court of Justice of the European Union. The deadline was midnight tonight.

Prior to the delivery of the GCEU judgment, it had been expected that no matter which side won, the decision would be appealed.

But following the court's decisions in July, some experts expressed the view that the strength of the judgment handed down by the court provided little scope for an appeal by the commission.

Earlier this week though, Politico Europe cited sources as saying it was likely that an appeal would be lodged.

Apple said that the General Court had categorically annulled the Commission's case in July and the facts have not changed since then. 

"This case has never been about how much tax we pay, rather where we are required to pay it," the company said in a statement.

"We will review the Commission's appeal when we receive it, however it will not alter the factual conclusions of the General Court, which prove that we have always abided by the law in Ireland, as we do everywhere we operate," it added.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe (Photo:

Speaking to the media, the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the decision by the European Commission to appeal the Apple tax judgement was to be very much expected.

"We will continue to ensure our interests are protected in the process that will now develop from this point," Mr Donohoe said. 

The Finance Minister said the ruling from the General Court of the European Union was very clear in indicating that the Commission's ruling had no standing in law. 

"What we are now going to do is understand what is the legal argument that has been put forward by the Commission in relation to this," he said. 

"We will have sight soon of the documents that they have to lodge with the court in relation to this issue. We will study the rationale they are putting forward and then I will make a further statement on the issue at that point once we understand the rationale for their further action, he added. 

Paschal Donohoe said the expectation is that the appeal process will develop over a number of years.

Additional reporting by Will Goodbody