Europe and the Apple Tax

Don't get me wrong I like Apple. Am actually writing this on a Mac! As a consumer am probably going to be buying the next iPhone! But as a European I don't understand how a tech CEO could be making statements about a European nation’s sovereignty.

Tim Cook has written an open letter in response to the EU commission's decision that his company needed to pay the Irish Government €13 bn in unpaid taxes. The EU decided that the company has received preferential treatment and given an unfair advantage in the EU market.

I don’t want get into the whos wrong or right, here. Tax evasion isn’t something I can say I know anything about. Am sure Tim Cook understands it, it’s his job to understand it. What I don’t think he understands is Europe complex geopolitical system. Not only because he is a Tech CEO but also because his not European.

The majority of his blog post entitled, “ A Message to the Apple Community in Europe” is spend on how Apple moved to Cork, Ireland over 35 years ago helping both Cork and Ireland rise out of unemployment and extremely low economic investment. Good for Mr. Cook and good for Apple, but one of the next paragraphs, dwells into something a tech CEO should offer no public opinion on, especially at a time when Europe’s existence is questioned and uncertain.

“The Commission’s move is unprecedented and it has serious, wide-reaching implications. It is effectively proposing to replace Irish tax laws with a view of what the Commission thinks the law should have been. This would strike a devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states over their own tax matters, and to the principle of certainty of law in Europe.”

I understand Mr. Cooks frustration and dismay over the decision. I also understand why he needed to highlight the positive relationship Ireland and Apple have had over the years. But statements like the one above have wide reaching effects outside of Apple’s jurisdiction.

Whether you believe Europe’s common market is a good thing or not, am sure you would agree it’s an issue for us Europeans to address and discuss.

I truly admire Apple’s impact on our daily lives, but that impact should remain firmly to questions like “Which phone am I going to pick out next?” and not “Should we be in the EU?”.