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Apple Shares Slip As EU Commission Appeals $15 Billion Tax Ruling

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that "making sure that all companies, big and small, pay their fair share of tax"  remains a top priority for the executive arm of the European Union.

Apple Inc.  (AAPL)  shares slipped lower Friday after the European Commission said it would appeal a ruling that freed the tech giant from paying a $15 billion back tax payment to the government of Ireland.

Europe's General Court ruled in July that the EU Commission, as well as Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, "did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard that there was an advantage" in Apple's tax arrangement with the Republic of Ireland that would have violated EU rules." 

The original order from the European Commission in 2016 had called on Apple to pay €13 billion ($15 billion) in back taxes to the Irish government after authorities said the two had agreed an unfair tax agreement as part of Apple's investment in the Republic.

"The General Court judgment raises important legal issues that are of relevance to the Commission in its application of State aid rules to tax planning cases," Vestager said. "The Commission also respectfully considers that in its judgment the General Court has made a number of errors of law. For this reason, the Commission is bringing this matter before the European Court of Justice."

"Making sure that all companies, big and small, pay their fair share of tax remains a top priority for the Commission," she added. "The General Court has repeatedly confirmed the principle that, while member states have competence in determining their taxation laws, they must do so in respect of EU law, including State aid rules."

Apple shares were marked 0.35% lower in early trading Friday to change hands at $107.82 each. 

The Irish government has always denied that it reached an unfair agreement on tax payments with Apple, and in fact lobbied against the $15 billion payment since the Commission made its first order more than four years ago.

Apple, for its part, accused the EU of 'retroactively" changing the rules with respect to calculating taxes on profits, arguing the payments should be made in the United States, not in Europe.