Cook is scheduled to meet with the Irish Taioseach in Dublin on January 20 to receive the award, “in recognition of the iPhone maker’s 40 years of investment in Ireland,” according to IDA Ireland, the country’s investment agency.
Apple’s business relationship with Ireland has faced significant opprobrium in recent years. In 2016, the European Commission found that the company received illegal state aid from Ireland.
Apple and Ireland both appealed the ruling, but the European Commission opened litigation against Ireland in October 2017 for its failure to procure Apple’s back taxes.
Apple has already almost finished paying the $13 billion in back taxes it owes. If the order is eventually overturned, the money will be returned to Apple.
In 2018, Apple abandoned plans to build a $1 billion data center in Ireland after facing significant pushback from local residents concerned about its potential effects on local animals and its close proximity to a shut-down nuclear power plant.
Apple’s European headquarters are located in Cork, and last year it expanded the campus with a new building that provides space for an additional 1,400 employees.
Apple’s European Job Creation page reveals that it now supports 1.7 million jobs across Europe, including around 1.5 million jobs attributable to the App Store ecosystem, some 17,000 of which are based in Ireland.
Apple’s website notes that it “has been based in Cork for over 35 years and now directly employs 6,000 people throughout Ireland supporting all aspects of the business.” The company also says its Irish team has “doubled in size over the last five years and includes over 80 different nationalities.”