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The European Commission denies that its shock demand that Apple Inc. hand 13 billion euros in back taxes to Ireland is, in the pungent phrase of Apple CEO Tim Cook, "total political crap". But, senior EU officials involved say, the decision certainly has a strong political element, even if Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager says she is confident her case will stand up to Cook's appeal on its legal merits alone.At the same time, Vestager is an "entirely independent" enforcer of EU competition law, she added.For European Union institutions, the struggle is less for money – Apple's cash will go to Ireland if Vestager wins her case.The $14.5 billion demand which angered the United States and worried Apple's peers was engineered for shock and awe, the EU official said. Juncker sees Vestager as what the EU president calls his "Rottweiler," he added.Vestager is clear she must win in court on some untested points of law against the best tax attorneys Silicon Valley and Washington can buy, and against EU member state Ireland.Since last year, Vestager has hit Google with three separate charges.Most current state aid tax cases, including Apple, were launched by Almunia but competition experts question whether he would have come to Vestager's radical conclusion.
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