Apple chief executive Tim Cook will receive an award in Dublin on January 20 in recognition of the iPhone maker's 40 years of investment here, Bloomberg reports.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will present Cook with the accolade, according to IDA Ireland.  

Apple is one of the country's biggest employers, with 6,000 staff directly employed.

In 2016, it was hit with a record €13 billion tax bill from the European Commission in one of the biggest state aid cases on record. 

The Government and Apple both vehemently deny they have done anything wrong and the case is currently under appeal at the European Court of Justice.

More recently, Apple shelved a plan to build $1 billion data centre in Athenry in Co Galway, citing difficulties with the planning system. 

Separately on January 20, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai will make a rare public appearance in Brussels.

He is scheduled to speak at the Bruegel think-tank about the development of responsible artificial intelligence.

Microsoft's Brad Smith will also be in Brussels that day to promote his new book, "Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age." 

The visits by the tech chiefs to Europe come as regulators in the region continue to take a tough line on US digital giants over issues ranging from their collection of user data and whether they preference their own services on their platforms over those of rivals. 

Google and Apple in particular are still entangled in long drawn-out legal battles with the EU over competition and tax issues, respectively. 

Pichai's and Smith's talks will take place several weeks before the European Commission, the EU's executive body, is set to unveil its plan to support the ethical development of artificial intelligence in the bloc.