On Tuesday, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruled in favour of the French energy company Engie in the tax dispute between it and Brussels, over controversial tax rebates in Luxembourg for an amount of 120 million euros.
The court, which was ruling at last instance, decided to annul the European Commission's decision to consider these tax advantages granted to Engie as illegal state aid, according to a statement from the Court. The magistrates followed the recommendation made in May by Advocate General Juliane Kokott.
The Court considers that the Commission made 'errors' which 'vitiated its analysis as a whole and the Commission's decision is therefore annulled'.
This investigation concerned tax agreements concluded in 2008 and 2010 by the Grand Duchy with the energy company, for the benefit of two group companies established in the country: Engie LNG Supply and Engie Treasury Management.
In June 2018, the European Commission concluded that the Engie group had benefited from illegal tax advantages in Luxembourg and demanded that the Grand Duchy recover €120 million from the company, of which the French state is the largest shareholder. Engie and Luxembourg had initially brought the matter before the General Court of the European Union, which ruled in favour of the Commission and dismissed their actions. They then appealed to the Court of Justice. The European Commission has already suffered a series of defeats in similar cases.
Last year, the car manufacturer Fiat (Stellantis group) obtained from the CJEU the annulment of a decision by Brussels that required it to reimburse €30 million in tax benefits in Luxembourg.
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The Commission has also lost to Apple, Amazon and Starbucks in other tax disputes in Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Apple's victory in the first instance, however, has been called into question recently. In a non-binding opinion generally followed by judges, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice recommended in November that the seven-year-old dispute between the iPhone maker and the European Commission over €13 billion in tax arrears in Ireland be retried.