Apple’s Cook Set For Irish Award After Years Of Tax Disputes
Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook will receive an award in Dublin on Jan. 20 in recognition of the iPhone maker’s 40 years of investment in Ireland.
Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar will present Cook with the accolade, according to IDA Ireland, the country’s investment agency.
Ireland’s decision to present Apple with an award may raise some eyebrows. Although it’s one of the country’s biggest employers, with 6,000 workers in Cork, it’s still reeling from being hit with a record 13 billion-euro ($14.4 billion) tax bill from the European Commission in one of the biggest state aid cases on record. More recently, Apple shelved a plan to build $1 billion data center in the west of Ireland, citing difficulties with the planning system.
Focus on the visit may be heightened with Varadkar set to face a general election within months. One of the country’s largest opposition parties, Sinn Fein, has criticized the government for fighting the tax case, saying the money should be accepted as a windfall to build homes and hospitals.
The Irish government and Apple both vehemently deny they have done anything wrong.
Cook will receive the award in recognition of Apple’s commitment to investing in Ireland, the IDA said. In part, the Irish economic model is based on attracting overseas companies.
“We should never take foreign direct investment for granted,” Martin Shanahan, chief executive of the agency, said in a statement.
Separately on Jan 20., Alphabet Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai will make a rare public appearance in Brussels, where he’s scheduled to speak at the Bruegel think-tank about the development of responsible artificial intelligence. Microsoft Corp.’s Brad Smith will also be in Brussels that day to promote his new book, “Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age.”
The visits by the tech chiefs to Europe come as regulators in the region continue to take a tough line on U.S. digital giants over issues ranging from their collection of user data and whether they preference their own services on their platforms over those of rivals. Google and Apple in particular are still entangled in long drawn-out legal battles with the EU over competition and tax issues, respectively.
Pichai’s and Smith’s talks will take place several weeks before the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, is set to unveil it’s plan to support the ethical development of artificial intelligence in the bloc.
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