The European Union is prepared to accuse Apple this week of anti-competitive behavior linked to a Spotify complaint about App Store rules, according to reports. If the reports come true and EU regulators file antitrust charges against Apple AAPL, -0.12%, it would represent the first time that the tech giant has faced such charges in the 27-member bloc, as the problems of Competition accumulate all over the world.
Music streaming platform Spotify alleged in March 2019 that Apple abused its control over which apps appear on the App Store to restrict competition against its own Apple Music service. Spotify SPOT, -0.86% also said that Apple’s payment system Apple Pay, which normally takes a 30% cut from transactions, made it difficult for Apple Music rivals to promote themselves. EU regulators then opened antitrust investigations at Apple in June 2020, investigating the App Store and Apple Pay. Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s head of digital and competition policy, will issue the charges publicly later this week, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, and Bloomberg similarly reported that the charges expire this week. In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority said in March that it was investigating Apple for alleged breaches of competition rules on the App Store, in a case similar to the EU. Also read: Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon could face multi-million dollar fines under new EU tech regulations AND: The fate of Facebook’s business model may be in the hands of the European Union’s supreme court Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. In 2019, it issued a response to Spotify’s complaint that outlines, among other things, how the App Store has facilitated hundreds of millions of downloads of the Spotify app. “Spotify wraps its financial motivations in deceptive rhetoric about who we are,” Apple said in 2019. The EU charges could be a step toward introducing significant fines or imposing mandatory changes to the App Store or Apple Pay. Fines for violating EU competition law are capped at 10% of a company’s total annual turnover, although Apple is unlikely to face the full brunt of that punishment. The company would also have the opportunity to present its case against regulators before a decision is issued. The charges against Apple in the EU would represent the latest in a series of antitrust challenges facing the company globally, and would mark an important step in the global push among regulators to control the power of big technology. On Monday, a group of Germany’s largest and most powerful media and advertising companies filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the Bundeskartellamt, the country’s Federal Cartel Office. Read: Apple slapped with an antitrust complaint in Germany over new iPhone privacy settings The whistleblowers, which include media and communications associations and members of the German Advertising Federation, allege that Apple abuses its market power and violates the Antitrust law through new changes to iPhone privacy settings. Big Tech is generally facing historic regulation in the EU that includes the possibility of multi-million dollar fines and the dissolution of companies if they do not comply with the new rules. Apple, as well as the online retailer Amazon AMZN, + 0.30%, the social media platform Facebook FB, + 0.22%, and the tech giant Google, owned by Alphabet GOOGL, -0.77%, will be subject to the Digital Services Law. and the Law of Digital Markets. presented by the European Commission in December 2020 and pending approval by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. These acts are aimed at keeping technology platforms at a high level over the content they host and introducing new pro-competitive measures for online markets.