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LUXEMBOURG/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – BP, BASF and more than 30 other multinationals stand to benefit after EU judges overturned an order demanding Belgium revoke a tax break skeleton cufflinks. The European Commission failed to prove that the Belgian tax break constituted aid, said the ruling by the General Court, the lower branch of the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. “The Commission wrongly considered that the Belgian system relating to the excess profit of multinational companies constituted an aid scheme,” it said..
The ruling marks a setback for the EU’s crackdown on tax avoidance by multinationals, a drive led by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager skeleton cufflinks. The European Commission in 2016 had ordered Belgium to recover some 700 million euros ($789 million) from companies which benefited from the scheme. In addition to BP and BASF, Wabco, Cellio, Atlas Copco and Belgacom (now Proximus) benefited from the tax break. Belgium and U.S. manufacturer Magnetrol had challenged the Commission in cases filed with the General Court..
It’s possible that the Commission will now pursue individual cases in the Belgian tax break case, according to one lawyer. “The Commission can take a new decision qualifying each individual case,” said Jacques Derenne, a partner at law firm Sheppard Mullin skeleton cufflinks. Elsewhere the European Commission’s crackdown on large companies avoiding tax has seen it order Ireland to recover some 13 billion euros from iPhone maker Apple. Luxembourg was instructed to claw back 250 million euros from Amazon, about 120 million euros from France’s Engie and up to 30 million euros from Fiat Chrysler..
STRASBOURG (Reuters) – EU lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a far-reaching system on Thursday to coordinate scrutiny of foreign investments, notably from China, to protect strategic technologies and infrastructure in Europe. The vote was 500 in favor, 49 against and 56 abstaining skeleton cufflinks. Under the plan, developed as Chinese investments surged, the European Commission will investigate foreign investments in critical sectors and give its view on whether they undermine European interests. China is not named in the proposed legislation, but its backers’ complaints over investments by state-owned enterprises and technology transfers are clear references to Beijing..
“All the powers in the world – the United States, Canada, Japan to China – have had their systems of screening, the United States with CFIUS since 1975. Only Europe had no screening system,” Franck Proust, the leading EU lawmaker on the plan, said on the eve of the vote. “We’re not looking to bar foreign investment. It is essential for EU countries, we need it. It’s to pay attention to the investments that are strange, that do not make economic sense but are political.” skeleton cufflinks.