EU competition chief flags fresh probes into multinationals' tax deals

FILE PHOTO: European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager speaks during a news conference in Brussels, Belgium February 1, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU regulators are likely to open investigations into tax deals between EU countries and multinationals after reviewing their arrangements in the previous decade, the bloc's competition chief warned on Monday.

European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, who has ordered Apple to pay 13 billion euros in back taxes in Ireland and Amazon 250 million euros to Luxembourg, among a dozen cases, has said such tax deals amount to illegal tax breaks.

Despite her crackdown, Vestager said aggressive tax planning "is still with us".

"My services have conducted an in-depth inquiry into tax ruling practices in all member states for the period 2014-2018, and I expect this will lead to new investigations in certain countries," she told a conference in Copenhagen.

She did not name the countries or the companies.

Vestager has had a mixed record defending her decisions in court, with Europe's top court set to rule on her appeals in the coming months after a lower tribunal threw out her tax orders to Apple, Amazon and Starbucks.

She did, however, get the court's backing for her order to Engie to pay back taxes of 120 million euros to Luxembourg.

And Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have all changed their tax practices in response to her tax crusade.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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