Response by State Secretary Snel to the ruling of the General Court of the European Union on Starbucks

It is good that we now have clarity about the European Commission’s state aid case against the Netherlands concerning Starbucks. This judgment means that the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration did not treat Starbucks any differently or more favourably than other companies.

The Netherlands agrees with the European Commission that state aid and tax avoidance must be tackled. It is therefore appropriate that the Commission should examine the tax treatment of individual companies as part of its state aid investigations. In the case of Starbucks, the Netherlands lodged its action in 2015 because the European Commission based its ruling that state aid had been provided on an arm’s length principle that does not exist in EU law. The Netherlands argued before the General Court that this assessment must be made on the basis of national law. Our national law on this point is based on the OECD guidelines. It seems that the General Court did not rule in the Netherlands’ favour on this point. Nevertheless, it found that no state aid has been provided because an arm’s length price was agreed in the tax ruling, as a result of which Starbucks was treated no differently than similar companies.