Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s Competition Commissioner, said that there would be a delay in the investigation on tax arrangements in Luxembourg for Amazon and on the treatment of Apple by Ireland, The New York Times reports. Initially, the commissioner was aiming to complete these cases by the end of the second quarter of 2015.
The Commission could require that Apple pay back large sums to Dublin, while Amazon might be required to reimburse Luxembourg. Back in October 2014, both Ireland and Apple denied any wrongdoing.
Ms. Vestager, who took office in October 2015 and is known for her no-nonsense approach, explained to members of the European Parliament that the Commission was not getting the information it needed to move forward. In addition, moving too quickly could stir criticism about how cases are handled. “Fast is always better than slow, but it is always best to be just,” she stated.
In contrast, the commissioner moved quickly last month, with anti-trust charges filed against Google – the highest profile antitrust lawsuit in Europe since the one against Microsoft. If Google loses, it faces fines of $6 billion.
Amazon, Apple, Google and other U.S. tech giants who dominate eCommerce in Europe are already in investigators’ crosshairs. From May 2015 until mid-2016, the commission will study “geoblocking” – a common eCommerce practice of blocking or redirecting customers in one country from buying from online retailers in another in what is supposed to be a single digital market.