Apple is set for another showdown with the European Union’s antitrust chief as she escalates an antitrust probe over its App Store, more than four years after she ordered the company to pay billions of dollars in back taxes.
Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, will speak at a press conference at 1pm in Brussels, according to an e-mail from the European Commission’s press office. She’s expected to explain why an EU investigation has found Apple abused its power over its App Store to unfairly squeeze music streaming service Spotify Technology.
Apple’s regulatory woes have intensified in recent months as software developers criticise the the levies Apple and Google charge outside developers for using their digital distribution platforms. Companies that make apps urged the US senate last week to tackle Apple’s control over the App Store.
Spotify complained in 2019 that Apple unfairly squeezes its music streaming service with ever-changing rules and a large sales commission on the App Store. It has said it was forced to “artificially” increase monthly subscriptions for its premium service to cover the extra costs.
The move to send Apple a so-called statement of objections raises the risk that the EU could order changes to its App Store or impose fines. Apple will have the chance to argue its case against any EU suspicions before regulators take a final decision. The EU has also been probing Apple over e-books and payments since last year.
The EU and Apple are separately waging a legal battle over a €13-billion tax dispute after the company won a first judgment overturning a landmark 2016 order for it to pay extra tax. The EU had ruled Apple’s tax deals with Ireland illegal. Apple has said it always obeyed the law. — Reported by Aoife White, (c) 2021 Bloomberg LP