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Clifford Chance advises Starbucks in the successful appeal against the European Commission

27 September 2019

Clifford Chance advises Starbucks in the successful appeal against the European Commission

International law firm Clifford Chance has represented Starbucks Manufacturing EMEA BV (SMBV), part of the Starbucks group, in an appeal against the European Commission. The European Commission claimed that Starbucks had benefitted from unlawful State aid – through an advance pricing arrangement (APA) with the Netherlands tax authorities – and gained a selective advantage in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands and Starbucks brought an action before the General Court for the annulment of the European Commission’s decision. The General Court concluded that the European Commission had not proved that Starbucks received any selective advantage as a result of its APA with the tax authorities in The Netherlands. Consequently, Starbucks was not liable to make the repayment of up to €30 million that the European Commission had ordered.

Clifford Chance's Michel Petite, a former director general of the Commission’s legal service, who co-represented Starbucks, commented, “This is another major achievement for Clifford Chance's antitrust team and continues the excellent work that we have carried out this year. We are proud to work with Starbucks and clarify that APAs do not constitute create uncompetitive environments."

Clifford Chance has a top ranked global corporate practice and global antitrust team combining specialised knowledge with economic and regulatory expertise and regularly advises on some of the most high-profile, complex work.