The European Court of Justice’s General Court sided with Apple and Ireland after eurocrats attempted to enforce a €13 billion back-taxes bill. The ruling insisted the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, had failed to prove the requisite legal standard there was a significant advantage for the tech firm. An ECJ statement said: “The General Court considers that the Commission did not prove, in its alternative line of reasoning, that the contested tax rulings were the result of discretion exercised by the Irish tax authorities.”
The decision comes as a particular blow to European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
In 2016, she ruled that Ireland must claim back €13 billion worth of corporate taxes plus interest after an investigation concluded Ireland have granted Apple a “sweetheart” deal for more than a decade.
The Commission had claimed Dublin gave Apple a preferential tax arrangement which was not available to other companies.
It was alleged the iPhone maker had escaped paying less than one percent in corporate taxes in Ireland.
Apple has consistently rejected the allegations.
Brussels now has just two months and 10 days to appeal against the decision.
The Commission will likely launch a challenge and the case will be heard by the EU’s top court, which will then issue a final ruling on the case.