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The architect of Apple's 13 billion euro tax bill has her sights set on the App Store

Margrethe Vestager
Margrethe Vestager (Image credit: New York Times)

What you need to know

  • EU antitrust regulator Margrethe Vestager has given an interview envisioning a more aggressive agenda.
  • In an interview with the New York Times, she spoke about Apple's tax practices in Ireland.
  • She also says Apple is being questioned over how it regulates its App Store for competitors like Spotify.

The woman behind Apple's mammoth 13 billion euro tax bill has told the New York Times that her aggressive agenda of reforms hasn't finished yet.

In an interview with The New York Times Margrethe Vestager spoke about her future plans, and it seems that Apple is not out of the woods yet.

According to the report, Vestager remains set on ensuring that more companies pay more taxes in Europe, likely based on where they operate and their presence. As mentioned, Vestager was the architect of the 13 billion euro tax bill, which both Apple and the Irish government have appealed. However she still has concerns, not just over the rate at which Apple pays tax in the country, but whether the way it funnels most of its European sales through Cork is even legal at all.

She also spoke about Apple's App Store. Spotify has filed a formal complaint against Apple in Europe, arguing that Apple was giving itself "an unfair advantage at every turn." One obvious conflict of interest is the fact that Apple has its own music streaming service, Apple Music, yet it also sets the regulations to which competitors like Spotify must adhere too if they want to appear in Apple's App Store.

"Some of these platforms, they have the role both as player and referee, and how can that be fair?" she asked. "You would never accept a football match where the one team was also being the referee."

Vestager also spoke briefly about the differing attitudes to business regulation in EU and US, but the piece hinted that some American authorities were coming round to her way of thinking and that Vestager saw opportunities to collaborate.

Recently at a Web Summit in Lisbon, Margrethe Vestager told press that she has received "many expressions of concern" over Apple's practices when it comes to Apple Pay, another Apple service currently under EU scrutiny, where the EU has concerns that Apple has engaged in practices it believes to be anticompetitive.

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.

  • Yep. This is why in the UK were voting to leave the EU. Apple was happy. Irish government was happy. EU pokes it’s nose in and there’s nothing any of us can do. Ireland configured itself the way it has TO appeal to big US companies etc with generous taxation rules. Without oil or other forms of wealth it’s actually a great way forward and has largely worked. The EU is going to scare companies away from Ireland and destroy its national appeal to companies like Apple by bullying them out. If it wants to change the rules going forward, which Apple didn’t break before, that’s fine but will still make it less appealing. But to fine Apple for being smart enough to work around it? Get real. Hope Apple leave Ireland now for this to teach the EU a lesson. Or even better, Ireland leave the EU.
  • There's a lot of reasons why "around half" the UK voted to the leave the EU, in the same sense there's lots of reasons why the other half of the UK voted to stay in the EU. EU has a lot of good things to it and a lot of bad, for example the GDPR is incredibly important in the technology world, and without the EU we wouldn't have it. I don't think Ireland are going to leave the EU, from the sounds of it most of them wanted to remain in the EU, and many people in the UK have moved to Ireland to escape Brexit
  • The EU also forces people to take in large swaths of people who don't assimilate, and drive trucks into Christmas parades because they eat pork and drink beer. Not a majority of them, but they should be able to vet people. The EU is basically the US but with less state's rights. England is a state in this sense, as is France, as is anyone else in the EU.
  • No system is perfect, the EU definitely has big problems, and so does the US, and so does the UK government to be fair (especially if you've been watching the elections as of recent). Many of the world's "happiest" countries are in the EU, so it's not like the EU is destroying countries, it's helped them in many ways. There's many places I've walked past in the UK which have been funded by the EU, places in the north where the government wouldn't bother to fund.
  • The EU does not work for sovereign nations. Better to just have some common standards on business and defense, but let each country manage itself. There doesn't need to be a continent-wide bureaucracy. It's a complete waste like the UN on "roids".
  • What classes as a sovereign nation? The idea behind the EU is that countries do manage themselves, but also share the EU laws which generally aren't that crazy, although I don't know all of them
  • This is a completely false analogy. The App Store is a store where you buy products, namely apps. Every store has a right to sell goods that it deems worthy. If I go to Walmart, I don't expect to buy Amazon Basics. It's really that simple. Further, Apple must ensure that apps are not breaking their OS by stealing data. It's not about memberships. Spotify wants to know more about it's users and Apple has put this to halt. This all about putting the squeeze on Apple for more money for EU pols to line their pockets. In fact, they are giving preferential treatment to Spotify. Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.