There’s no sign of let-up in the war of words over the European Commission’s demand that Apple should pay an extra €13B ($15B) in taxes on its European sales. After Tim Cook last week described the tax ruling as ‘political crap,’ the EC has hit back with some strong words of its own.

The WSJ quotes Eurofinance head Jeroen Dijsselbloem stating that Apple had failed to understand the public mood in Europe …

“The Apple response shows that they don’t grasp what’s going on in society and they do not grasp what’s going on in the public debate,” Mr. Dijsselbloem, president of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, said on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti forum of business leaders in Italy. “This is a very strong moral issue, and large companies, even if they’re this large, can’t say ‘this is not about us, there’s no problem here.’”

The remarks on both sides underline my own view that the dispute reveals a divide between U.S. and European perceptions on the issue, one side viewing it as about what is fair for corporations, the other what is fair for taxpayers.

None of the words mean very much until we have clarification on the actual amount of tax paid, and under what headings. Conflicting claims by the EC and Apple need to be resolved, something that won’t happen until the report is published. The likely delay is in Apple being given the opportunity to request redaction of commercially-sensitive information.

Photo: Agence France-Press/Getty Images via WSJ

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