European Union


'European Union' Articles

Apple Turns Down Invite to EU Hearing on Tax Evasion Because it Could Be 'Detrimental' to Appeal Process

As Apple continues to face a legal battle with the European Commission concerning the regulator's claim that Apple received illegal state aid from Ireland and owes billions in back taxes, the latest development has seen the Cupertino company decline an invitation to testify before a special committee on the tax evasion claims (via Reuters). According to a letter to the European Parliament shared on Twitter today by Parliament member Sven Giegold, Apple said it "will not be able to participate in a public hearing" on the topic of tax evasion. The company's senior director for European government affairs, Claire Thwaites, explained that while the company appeals the Commission's decision alleging state aid from Ireland, "it is important to ensure public commentary does not prejudice those proceedings." This is rotten! #Apple refuses to testify before the special committee on tax evasion of the European Parliament. No company stands above democracy! We should now withdraw Apple's lobby badges to access to the Parliament! This is the company's letter: pic.twitter.com/U2I4G6jNp9— Sven Giegold (@sven_giegold) June 1, 2018 Because of this, Apple fears its presence at the June 21 EU hearing "could be detrimental" to its appeal, and "any potential appeals thereafter." Thwaites ended the letter by stating Apple would, however, be open to meeting privately with Committee members to address questions on its decision. Since the appeal is ongoing and likely to be heard at the General Court in the near future we will not be able to participate in a public hearing on this

Apple Wins EU Trademark Case Against Xiaomi and its 'Mi Pad' Tablet

Apple Tuesday won the right to prevent Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi from registering its "Mi Pad" mobile tablet device as an EU trademark because the name has been deemed too similar to Apple's iPad (via Reuters). The General Court, the European Union's second highest, ruled that registering Mi Pad as a trademark was not in the public interest, as consumers were likely to be confused by the similarity of the signs. "The dissimilarity between the signs at issue, resulting from the presence of the additional letter 'm' at the beginning of "Mi Pad", is not sufficient to offset the high degree of visual and phonetic similarity between the two signs," the Court said in a statement. The decision comes three years after Xiaomi filed an application with the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to register Mi Pad as a trademark, which prompted Apple to lodge a complaint. The EUIPO sided with Apple's view, based on the grounds that Mi Pad could be misconstrued as a variation of the iPad trademark. The court agreed with the EUIPO's decision and said English-speaking consumers were likely to understand the prefix "mi" as meaning "my" and therefore pronounce the "i" of Mi Pad and iPad in the same way.Xiaomi could appeal against the ruling at the EU's highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, but so far no statement on today's decision has been given by the Chinese mobile maker. Xiaomi's expansion into Europe kicked off last month when it began selling its smartphones in Spain. The company has managed to become China's fourth largest mobile vendor by

EU Proposes Enforcing Data Encryption and Banning Backdoors

The European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs has published draft proposals that would enforce end-to-end encryption on all digital communications and forbid backdoors that enable law enforcement to access private message data. The proposed amendment relates to Article 7 of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, which says that EU citizens have a right to personal privacy, as well as privacy in their family life and at home. By extension, the "confidentiality and safety" of EU citizens' electronic communications needs to be "guaranteed" in the same manner. Confidentiality of electronic communications ensures that information exchanged between parties and the external elements of such communication, including when the information has been sent, from where, to whom, is not to be revealed to anyone other than to the parties involved in a communication. The principle of confidentiality should apply to current and future means of communication, including calls, internet access, instant messaging applications, e-mail, internet phone calls and messaging provided through social media.The regulation states that the disclosure of contents in electronic communications may reveal highly sensitive information about citizens, from personal experiences and emotions to medical conditions, sexual preferences and political views, which could result in personal and social harm, economic loss or embarrassment. In addition, the committee argues that not only the content of communications needs to be protected, but also the metadata associated

Mobile Roaming Charges Abolished in the EU

A new European Union law came into effect on Thursday that abolishes roaming charges for people using mobile phones abroad. The new rules mean that EU citizens traveling within the EU that call, text, and browse the internet on their mobile devices will be charged the same price they pay in their home country. Previously, roaming charges were added to the cost of calls, SMS messages, and web browsing whenever mobile users in the EU traveled to another country and connected to another cellular network. The practice of charging consumers extra while they were abroad gained widespread notoriety because users often ended up having to pay extortionate fees for relatively moderate data usage. "Each time a European citizen crossed an EU border, be it for holidays, work, studies or just for a day, they had to worry about using their mobile phones and a high phone bill from the roaming charges when they came home," said the European Commission in a statement. "The European Union is about bringing people together and making their lives easier. The end of roaming charges is a true European success story. Eliminating roaming charges is one of the greatest and most tangible successes of the EU," the statement added.The EU has been negotiating with mobile networks for nearly 10 years to come to an agreement regarding the legislation, following repeated warnings from networks that the law could mean higher tariffs at home. That outcome appears to have been avoided, however. "The EU has managed to find the right balance between the end of roaming charges and the need to keep

U.K. Surveillance Powers Are 'Illegal', Rules E.U.'s Highest Court

The European Union's highest court has ruled that the "general and indiscriminate retention" of electronic communications by governments is illegal, in a direct challenge to the U.K.'s recently passed Investigatory Powers Act, the so-called "Snooper's Charter" (via The Guardian). The U.K. bill requires that internet service providers retain a record of all websites visited by citizens for 12 months at a time, but today's decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg ruled that the collection of data in such a manner puts citizens under "constant surveillance" and enables governments to draw "very precise conclusions" about their private lives. The European Court of Justice The interference by national legislation that provides for the retention of traffic data and location data with that right must therefore be considered to be particularly serious. The fact that the data is retained without the users of electronic communications services being informed of the fact is likely to cause the persons concerned to feel that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance. Consequently, only the objective of fighting serious crime is capable of justifying such interference. It's unclear at this point whether the ruling can be used to overturn the United Kingdom's surveillance laws. The U.K.'s Home Office has said it will appeal the ruling, which could eventually prove academic once the country has withdrawn from the E.U. and the ECJ loses judicial authority over the U.K. Martha Spurrier, director of the human rights group Liberty, said the

EU Competition Chief on Apple Tax Probe: 'Don't Hold Your Breath'

A decision in the European Commission's probe of Apple's tax affairs in Ireland may not be reached soon, according to EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager (via Bloomberg).“Don’t hold your breath,” she told reporters in Brussels on Monday about the timing of decisions targeting Apple and online shopping giant Amazon.com Inc, whose tax affairs in Luxembourg are also under intense scrutiny. “I’m just warning you.”Apple is one of several multinational corporations, alongside Amazon, McDonald's, Starbucks, and others, that have been targeted for possible corporate tax avoidance in Europe. Brussels launched the probe in June 2014, and it formally accused the iPhone maker of receiving illegal state aid from Ireland three months later. If Apple's $64.1 billion in profits generated from 2004 to 2012 are subjected to a 12.5% tax rate, compared to its current foreign tax rate of about 1.8%, the company could owe more than $8 billion in back taxes. Apple continues to deny any wrongdoing, and vows to appeal any decision that goes against the company. Apple operates multiple subsidiaries in Ireland to pay significantly less tax outside of the U.S., where it earns up to 60% of its revenue. A decision in the tax probe was originally expected in late 2015, but the European Commission's request for additional information has pushed the investigation into 2016. Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow

European Probe of Apple's Irish Tax Policies Extended to 2016

A decision in the European Commission probe of Ireland's alleged "sweetheart tax deal" with Apple will likely be delayed until after the Irish elections in early 2016, as Financial Times reports the executive cabinet has now requested supplementary questionnaires in the lengthy investigation. The European Commission began Apple's Irish tax probe in June 2014, and the Brussels-based executive body formally accused the iPhone maker of receiving illegal state aid from Ireland in September 2014. A decision was originally expected earlier this year, but the additional information requested will likely cause further delays. Apple's tax policies have been scrutinized on numerous occasions over the past three years, as the company is said to utilize multiple subsidiary companies located in the Irish city of Cork to move money around without significant tax penalties. Apple continues to deny any wrongdoing, and Ireland vows to take the European Commission to court over any negative ruling, according to the report. Apple's Irish tax probe is part of a larger crackdown by the European Commission on possible corporate tax avoidance in EU countries. Earlier this month, the commission reportedly accused McDonald's of "benefiting from arrangements that allowed it to pay no tax on European royalties in Luxembourg," and Fiat and Starbucks were ordered in October to repay up to €30 million in back

Italian Regulators Conclude Corporate Tax Investigation Against Apple

Italian regulators have completed an investigation into allegations that Apple failed to pay €879 million ($964 million) in corporate taxes, according to Reuters. The report states that, under Italian law, prosecutors can now ask a judge to bring the case to trial. Apple claims that it has paid all necessary taxes in countries that it operates and is confident that the process will be resolved. Apple's flagship Via Roma retail store in Torino, Italy The investigations accuse Apple of booking profits generated in Italy through an Irish subsidiary in an effort to lower its taxable income base and save nearly €900 million from 2008 through 2013. Apple argues that it's "one of the largest tax payers in the world and paid every euro of tax it owed wherever it did business," and believes that the allegations against its employees are without merit.It said the Italian tax authorities had audited Apple’s Italian operations in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and confirmed it was in full compliance with the OECD documentation and transparency requirements. "These new allegations against our employees are completely without merit and we’re confident this process will reach the same conclusion," it said.Apple is one of several multinational tech companies, including Amazon and Google, that have faced corporate tax investigations in the United States and Europe. The U.S. Senate accused Apple of avoiding billions in income taxes in May 2013, while the European Union accused the company of receiving illegal state aid from Ireland after completing a formal investigation into its questionable