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May 5, 2021, 6:12 a.m. EDT

Apple set to face antitrust charges over Spotify complaint, according to reports

By Jack Denton

A previous version of this article gave the wrong name for Apple’s payment mechanism for App Store and in-app purchases. The story has been corrected.

Apple is set to face antitrust charges in the European Union over a competition complaint made by Spotify about App Store rules, according to reports.

Spotify had alleged back in March 2019 that Apple abused its control over which apps appear in the App Store to restrict competition against its own Apple Music service.

EU regulators opened antitrust probes into Apple in June 2020 , investigating the App Store and Apple Pay.

If reports come true and EU regulators allege that Apple (NAS:AAPL) abused antitrust rules, it would represent the first time the technology giant has faced such charges in the 27-member bloc, as competition concerns stack up worldwide.

European Commission regulators are set to present the charges in the coming weeks, according to a report on Mar. 4 by Reuters , which first reported the news and cited sources close to the matter. The report said that the Commission could set out Apple’s suspected violations of antitrust rules in a statement of objections before the summer.

Essential reading: Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon could face multibillion-dollar fines under new EU tech regulations

The charges would be linked to a competition complaint made two years ago by music streaming platform Spotify (NYS:SPOT) over the rules on Apple’s App Store.

Spotify also said that Apple’s payment mechanism, which takes up to a 30% cut of in-app and App Store purchases, made it difficult for Apple Music rivals to market themselves.

Antitrust charges against Apple in the EU would represent just the latest effort by European regulators to crack down on the power of Big Tech.

In the U.K., the Competition and Markets Authority said on Thursday that it was looking into Apple for suspected breaches of competition rules on the App Store, in a similar case to the one in the EU.

Read more: Apple probed over app store access by U.K. regulator

Big Tech more broadly faces landmark regulation in the EU that includes the possibility of multibillion-dollar fines and the breaking up of companies if they don’t comply with new rules. 

Apple, as well as Amazon (NAS:AMZN) , Facebook (NAS:FB) , and Google, owned by Alphabet (NAS:GOOGL) , will fall under the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, presented by the European Commission in December 2020 and pending approval by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers. These acts aim to hold technology platforms to a high standard over the content they host, and introduce new pro-competition measures for online markets.

Apple declined to comment, but pointed to its response to Spotify’s complaint from 2019 . At the time, Apple outlined, among other things, how the App Store has facilitated hundreds of millions of downloads of the Spotify app.

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.