BRUSSELS -- The European Union launched a probe Wednesday to determine whether the special tax deals offered to Apple (IW 500/4) and Starbucks by authorities in Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands amount to illegal state aid.
"In the current context of tight public budgets, it is particularly important that large multinationals pay their fair share of taxes," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.
Apple and Starbucks -- as well as a number of other multinational companies including Amazon and Google -- have come under intense pressure from politicians and campaigners over their tax affairs.
The tax policies ruling the financial arm of Italian automaker Fiat (IW 1000/30), based in Luxembourg, is also included in the probe.
In 2012, Starbucks acknowledged it had not paid corporation tax in Britain on sales worth £400 million ($670 million) between 2009 and 2012.
"We comply with all relevant tax rules, laws, and OECD guidelines, and we're studying the commission's announcement related to the state aid investigation in the Netherlands," a Starbucks spokesman said.
In a letter to parliament, the Netherlands government said it would "of course" cooperate with the EU probe.
"I am convinced that the investigation will conclude that this is not state aid and that agreements with Starbucks respect OECD rules on tax deductions," said Eric Wiebes, state secretary of finance.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014