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EU hopes Ireland will recover money from Apple 'very soon'

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager holds a news conference at EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, July 14, 2016.
Francois Lenoir | Reuters
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager holds a news conference at EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, July 14, 2016.

EU's Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told CNBC that Irish authorities are "taking too long" to get unpaid taxes from Apple.

Speaking to CNBC over the phone on Thursday, Vestager said she hopes Ireland will recover 13 billion euros ($14.46 billion) from Apple "very soon".

The European Commission ruled last August that Ireland had granted undue tax benefits of up to 13 billion euros to Apple. The illegal tax aid has created tensions between Brussels and Dublin, given that the latter doesn't want to be seen as unfriendly to business.

At the time, Apple's CEO Tim Cook said the EU's decision would harm future investment decisions in Europe, but Vestager has downplayed the impact.

"I haven't seen any evidence of that," Vestager told CNBC, mentioning the advantages that companies have when accessing the European market, which has a potential customer base of more than 500 million.

'Few more' ongoing investigations 

On Thursday, the European Commission fined U.S. giant Facebook for providing "misleading" information about its acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp.

Vestager told CNBC that the 110 million euro ($122 million) fine is the final amount.

Facebook admitted that it made a mistake, though without intention. When asked if this attitude marked a change in how companies respond to the commission's investigations, Vestager said: "It is too early to say."

For example, Apple's Tim Cook dubbed the decision on its tax arrangements with Ireland as "political crap".

Vestager admitted that there are "a few more" similar investigations going on. However, cases of companies giving wrong information about their acquisitions plans "are quite rare".

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