Dies ist eine HTML Version eines Anhanges der Informationsfreiheitsanfrage 'Apple Competition Case to the General Court'.


 
 
 
EUROPEAN COMMISSION 
Competition DG 
 
 
  The Director General 
Brussels, 28/07/2020 
COMP/ H5/MA-ir-2020/4364 
Mr. Emmet Oliver 
 
1 Dalkey Court 
Barnhill Road 
Co Dublin 
Ireland 
 
ask+request-8372-
xxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxx.xxx 
 
Subject: GESTDEM 2020/4364 – Your request of 16 July 2020 for access to 
documents pursuant to Regulation (EC) No. 1049/2001 relating to Case 
COMP/SA.38373 – Aid to Apple 

 
Dear Sir, 
Thank you for your message of 16 July 2020, registered on 17 July 2020 under GESTDEM 
number 2020/4364, concerning Case COMP/SA.38373 – Aid to Apple, in which you 
request access to documents in the Commission's case file in accordance with Regulation 
(EC) No. 1049/20011 ("Regulation 1049/2001").  
1. 
DOCUMENTS CONCERNED 
In your message, you request access to the following documents that, in so far they exist, 
are part of the administrative file of DG Competition concerning Case COMP/ SA.38373 – 
Aid to Apple: 
•  “The total legal costs to date of the enforcement action, taken under community 
State Aid legislation, against Apple Inc, in relation to tax rulings granted by the 
Irish tax authorities. These legal costs should cover from the inception of the case 
until the judgement in the General Court. 

•  A breakdown of these legal costs, as per law firm or legal representative, used by 
the Commission during the case. If in-house counsel were used, could I please 
have a summary of the hours deployed by the counsel on this particular case 
since its inception and the monetary value of these hours. 

•  Could I have a list of the Irish-based companies that the Commission asked for 
information about from Ireland in the early phase of the investigation into Apple. 
                                                 
1   Regulation (EC) N° 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and 
Commission documents, OJ L145 of 31.5.2001, p. 43 
 
Commission européenne, B-1049 Bruxelles / Europese Commissie, B-1049 Brussel - Belgium 

 
•  Could I have copies of all letters, emails, correspondence from Commissioner 
Vestager specifically, or her officials, about the case in the last 12 months, sent to 
Ireland's Department of Finance, Ireland's Tax Authority (the Revenue 
Commissioners), Department of Foreign Affairs or Irish EU representative 
offices in Brussels. 

•  Copies of all minutes of any meetings held with Irish Government officials about 
the Apple tax case that have taken place over the last 12 months. 
•  Copies of all preparatory material, speaking points or emails or other 
documentation, utilised for Ms Vestager's press conference on the day after the 
Apple tax judgement was released (July 16th)” 

 
The documents you request access to, in so far they exist, form part of the case file in a 
pending State aid investigation under Article 107/108 of the TFEU in which the procedure 
may not be considered finalized yet, as long as the decision adopted by the Commission is 
still subject to appeal which might prompt the Commission to reconsider its decision and 
reopen the case.  
Having carefully examined your request in the light of Regulation 1049/2001, I have come 
to the conclusion that the documents you have requested access to fall under the exceptions 
of Article 4 of Regulation 1049/2001. Access to these documents, therefore, has to be 
refused. Please find below the detailed assessment as regards the application of the 
exceptions of Article 4 of Regulation 1049/2001.  
Furthermore, please be informed that the Legal Service of the Commission will provide you 
with an answer on your question regarding the legal costs incurred by the Commission, as 
far as those costs relate to the litigation phase. 
Please find attached the statement by Commissioner Vestager on the judgment of the 
General Court in cases T-778/16 and T-892/16 dated 15 July 2020. 
2. 
APPLICABLE EXCEPTIONS  
As the effects of granting access to documents under Regulation 1049/2001 are erga omnes
in the sense that such documents become public, the disclosure of the requested documents 
at this stage might hurt the protection of lawful interests, as set forth in Article 4 of 
Regulation 1049/2001. Once access is granted, any potential requester receives access to the 
documents in question, irrespective of its legal standing, involvement in the competition 
case or not or other specific interests it may have, as "the purpose of the regulation is to 
guarantee access for everyone to public documents and not just access for the requesting 
party to documents concerning it
".2 
Article 4(2), third indent, protection of the purpose of investigations and Article 4(3) 
protection of the institution's decision making process 

                                                 
2   See Joined Cases T-110/03, T-150/03 and T-405/03, Sison v Council, paragraph 50; Case T-181/10, 
Reagens SpA v Commission, paragraph 143. 
 
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Pursuant to Article 4(2), third indent of Regulation 1049/2001 the Commission shall refuse 
access to a document where its disclosure would undermine the protection of the purpose of 
inspections, investigations and audits.  
Pursuant to Article 4(3), access to the documents drawn by the Commission or received by 
the Commission shall be refused if the disclosure of the documents would seriously 
undermine the Commission's decision making process. 
These exceptions aim at protecting the Commission's capacity to ensure that Member States 
and undertakings comply with their obligation under European Union law. For the effective 
conduct of pending investigations, it is of utmost importance that the Commission's 
investigative strategy, preliminary assessments of the case and planning of procedural steps 
remain confidential. 
As already stated, the-limit to bring proceedings before the Court of Justice has not 
expired. The presumption in TGI3 applies to cases pending before the EU courts4 and 
therefore also to investigations where the time-limit for bringing court proceedings is 
running. 
In TGI5, a case which concerned an access to documents request to all documents in two 
State aid cases, the Court of Justice upheld the Commission's refusal and held that there 
exists with regard to the exception related to the protection of the purpose of 
investigations a general presumption that disclosure of documents in the file would 
undermine the purpose of State aid investigations. The Court reasoned that this follows 
from the fact that under the State aid procedural rules the interested parties, other than the 
Member State concerned, have no right to consult the documents in the administrative 
file and should such access be granted under Regulation 1049/2001 the nature of the 
procedure is likely to be modified and thus the system for review of State aid would be 
called into question6. This line of reasoning was upheld by the Court in Sea Handling v 
Commission
 even when it comes to a reduced number of documents pertaining to a State 
aid file7. 
It is noteworthy that in State aid procedures the Commission relies on submissions by the 
Member State concerned which typically contain sensitive data, including information 
related to the economic activities of undertakings. It therefore follows that, similarly to 
Agrofert8, disclosure of this information in State aid investigations would risk 
jeopardising the willingness of the Member State to cooperate with the Commission's 
State aid investigations even after the definitive closure of the case. 
                                                 
3   See Case C-139/07 P, Commission v Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau GmbH. 
4   This follows from the fact that in the TGI case some of the documents to which access was refused 
were part of a State aid case pending before the General Court. The applicability of the presumption 
was further confirmed in Case C-404/10 P Commission v Odile Jacob not only in respect of merger 
proceedings but also State aid cases pending before the EU courts. See in that sense paragraph 128 of 
the judgment. 
5   See Case C-139/07 P, Commission v Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau GmbH. 
6   See Case C-139/07 P, Commission v Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau GmbH, paragraphs 58-59. 
7   See Case T-456/13, Sea Handling SPA v Commission, paragraphs 55-58 and 61. 
8   See Case C-477/10 P, Commission v Agrofert, paragraph 66. 
 
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The State aid procedural regulations, especially Regulation 2015/15899, contain specific 
rules regarding treatment of information obtained in the context of such proceedings and 
allowing public access to it on the basis of Regulation 1049/2001 would, in principle, 
jeopardise the balance which the Union legislature wished to ensure in State aid 
procedures between the obligation on Member States to communicate possibly sensitive 
information (including sensitive commercial information related to undertakings) to the 
Commission and the guarantee of increased protection in accordance with the State aid 
procedural regulations.  In essence, the State aid procedural regulations and Regulation 
1049/2001 have different aims but must be interpreted and applied in a consistent 
manner. The rules on access to file in the above-mentioned regulations are also designed 
to ensure observance of professional secrecy and are of the same hierarchical order as 
Regulation 1049/2001 (so that neither of the two sets of rules prevails over the other). 
The requested documents would reveal the Commission's investigation strategy and their 
disclosure would therefore undermine the protection of the purpose of the investigation and 
would also seriously undermine the Commission's decision making process, especially in 
case the final decision of the Court would prompt the Commission to resume the 
investigation. The Commission's services must be free to explore all possible options in 
preparation of a decision free from external pressure. 
In view of the foregoing, the requested documents are manifestly covered in their entirety 
by the exception related to the protection of the purpose of the Commission's State aid 
investigations set out in Article 4(2), third indent of Regulation 1049/2001. Moreover, the 
internal Commission documents and documents received by the Commission in the file are 
also covered by the exception related to the protection of the Commission's decision-
making process, set out in Article 4(3) of Regulation 1049/2001. 
Article 4(2), first indent, protection of commercial interests 
Pursuant to Article 4(2), first indent of Regulation 1049/2001 the Commission shall refuse 
access to a document where disclosure would undermine the protection of commercial 
interests of a natural or legal person. 
Economic entities have a legitimate commercial interest in preventing third parties from 
obtaining strategic information on their essential, particularly economic interests and on the 
operation or development of their business. Moreover, the assessments made by the 
Commission and contained in Commission's documents are commercially sensitive, 
particularly at a stage where an investigation has not been finally concluded yet. 
The documents requested by you, as specified above, are part of the file in a competition 
case, have not been brought into the public domain and are known only to a limited number 
of persons. In particular, the documents you request access to contain commercial and 
market-sensitive information regarding the activities of the potential beneficiaries and other 
third parties, as well as intellectual property rights of the beneficiary/third parties, whose 
public disclosure would undermine the latters' commercial interests. This information 
                                                 
9   Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1589 of 13 July 2015 laying down detailed rules for the application of 
Article 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Text with EEA relevance) OJ L 
248 of 24.9.2015, p. 9–29. 
 
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concerns in particular commercial strategies. Disclosure of these  documents could bring 
serious harm to the undertakings' commercial interests.  
In view of the foregoing, the requested documents are covered by the exception set out in 
Article 4(2), first indent of Regulation 1049/2001. 
The general presumption recognized in the case-law cited above does not exclude the 
possibility of demonstrating that certain documents, of which disclosure is sought, are not 
covered by the presumption. However, you have not demonstrated this in your application. 
3. 
OVERRIDING PUBLIC INTEREST IN DISCLOSURE 
Pursuant to Article 4(2) and (3) of Regulation 1049/2001, the exception to the right of 
access contained in that Article must be waived if there is an overriding public interest in 
disclosing the documents requested. In order for an overriding public interest in 
disclosure to exist, this interest, firstly, has to be public (as opposed to private interests of 
the applicant) and, secondly, overriding, i.e. in this case it must outweigh the interest 
protected under Article 4(2), first and third indents, and 4(3) of Regulation 1049/2001. 
In your application, you have not established arguments that would present an overriding 
public interest to disclose the documents to which access has been hereby denied. 
Consequently, the prevailing interest in this case lies in protecting the effectiveness of the 
Commission’s investigations, its decision-making process and the commercial interests 
of the undertakings concerned. 
4. 
PARTIAL ACCESS 
I have also considered the possibility of granting partial access to the documents in 
accordance with Article 4(6) of Regulation 1049/2001. However, the general 
presumption of non-disclosure invoked above also applies to partial disclosure for all the 
documents concerned and, consequently, no partial access can be granted. 
5. 
MEANS OF REDRESS 
If you want this position to be reviewed you should write to the Commission's Secretary-
General at the address below, confirming your initial request. You have fifteen (15) 
working days in which to do so from receipt of this reply after which your initial request 
will be deemed to have been withdrawn. 
 
 
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The Secretary-General will inform you of the result of this review within fifteen (15) 
working days from the registration of your request, either granting you access to the 
documents or confirming the refusal. In the latter case, you will be informed of how you 
can take further action. 
 
All correspondence should be sent to the following address: 
 
European Commission 
Secretariat-General 
Transparency, Document Management & Access to Documents (SG.C.1)  
BERL 7/076 
B-1049 Bruxelles 
 
or by email to: xxxxxxxxxx@xx.xxxxxx.xx. 
 
 
Yours faithfully, 
 
e-signed 
 
p.o. Carles ESTEVA MOSSO 
Olivier GUERSENT 
 
 
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