European Commission’s investigations into member state transfer pricing and tax ruling practices

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Since June 2013, the European Commission has been investigating tax ruling practices of EU Member States. A Task Force was set up in summer 2013 to follow up on allegations of favourable tax treatment of certain companies, in particular in the form of unilateral tax rulings.

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”) provides that “any aid granted by a Member State or through State resources in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods shall, in so far as it affects trade between Member States, be incompatible with the internal market.”. The State aid rules ensures that the functioning of the internal market is not distorted by anticompetitive behavior favouring some to the detriment of others.

In June 2014 the Commission initiated a series of State aid investigations on Multinational Corporations related to transfer pricing practices and rulings.


Final decisions now have been published in cases against:

  • Ireland/Apple (Appealed to the EU Court)
  • Belgium/Excess Profit Exemption (Final decision by the EU Court)
  • The Netherlands/Starbucks (Appealed to the EU Court)
  • Luxembourg/Fiat (Appealed to the EU Court)


And formal investigations have later on been opened against:

  • Luxembourg/Amazon
  • Luxembourg/McDonald’s
  • Luxembourg/GDF Suez(now Engie)


In december 2014 the Commission extended the investigation to tax rulings from all Member States.

Follow these investigations on the European Commission homepage for State Aid, Tax rulings

See the “TAXE 1” report by the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Tax Rulings and Measures Similar in Nature or Effect (“the TAXE Committee”) below.

EU Special Committee, November 2015, Report on Tax Rulings and Other Measures

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