The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) lobby group on Wednesday backed the European Union’s antitrust case against Apple that alleges it distorts competition in the music streaming market.

The European Commission filed its first antitrust charges against Apple in April following an initial complaint by the iPhone maker’s rival Spotify.

BEUC said it has been allowed to join as an interested third party in the antitrust regulator’s case, that could lead to a hefty fine of as much as 10 percent of Apple’s global turnover and force a change to its business practices.

“We look forward to working with the Commission to ensure that Europe’s consumers have access to a full range of music streaming services without their choices being unfairly restricted or prices being artificially inflated,” BEUC Director General Monique Goyens said in a statement.

Apple has rejected the EU charges, saying that its App Store enabled Spotify to become the world’s largest music subscription service. It has been given 12 weeks to respond to the charges.

Spotify wants “all the benefits of the App Store but don’t think they should have to pay anything,” an Apple spokesperson said, adding that the EU’s case was “the opposite of fair competition.”

The EU competition enforcer in its so-called statement of objections setting out the charge said the issue related to Apple’s restrictive rules for its App Store that force developers to use its own in-app payment system and prevent them from informing users of other purchasing options.

“This is done by charging high commission fees on each transaction in the App store for rivals and by forbidding them from informing their customers of alternative subscription options,” she said.

“By setting strict rules on the App store that disadvantage competing music streaming services, Apple deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices and distorts competition,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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