Scores of activists took over an Apple store in Paris Saturday, demanding that the company pays back €13 billion in Irish tax benefits, as ordered by the European Commission. Similar actions took place in over a dozen other cities across France.
Activists stormed into the Apple store in central Paris on Saturday, prompting the staff to close the shop to customers for nearly three hours as the demonstration continued, BFM TV reports.
Transactions and Citizen’s Action organization (Attac), a group that advocates for social and environmental justice, demanded the US firm pay the fine imposed by the European Commission more than a year ago.
“We will stop when Apple pays,” read a large banner the activists unfurled on the second floor. “Apple must stop denying the tax practices highlighted by the European Commission’s investigation, withdraw its appeal to the European Court of Justice and pay its fine of 13 billion euros as quickly as possible,” the Attac spokesman, Aurelie Trouve, said in a statement.
The group also calls on Apple to “publish its country-by-country reporting now and retroactively over the past few years” to verify the company is paying according to its activities.
Over a dozen French cities, including Marseille, Lyon and Lille, held similar actions, as protests in Paris gathered hundreds of activists, according to Attac.
“We received a formal commitment from an Apple manager that we would be granted a meeting with the national leadership within 15 days,” Trouve told AFP. “If this meeting does not take place, we will come back before Christmas.”
The Saturday event was part of the #PhoneRevolt campaign, said to highlight the brand’s practices, such as tax evasion, pollution, worker exploitation, as well as driving excessive consumption, Attac says.
In August last year, the European Commission concluded the Irish government provided the US company with “selective treatment,” enabling Apple to pay “substantially less tax than other businesses.” The tax arrangements there effectively allowed Apple to record its sales in Ireland, rather than in countries where Apple products were actually sold. As a result, Dublin was ordered to recover the multi-billion penalty by January 2017.
READ MORE: Apple ordered to repay record €13bn to cover unpaid EU tax
Initially, both Apple and Ireland appealed the ruling. Last month, however, Ireland promised to recoup the unpaid taxes from Apple. The pledge came after the European authorities warned they were taking the country to the European Court of Justice for being too slow, while Apple continues to “benefit from an illegal advantage.” Attac claims the company managed to store more than €230 billion in tax havens, using its Irish subsidiaries “to relocate two thirds of these global profits, and pay almost no taxes.”