The French government plans to take both Apple and Google to court for what French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire classes as “abusive trade practices.”
This relates to the way that both companies reportedly treat startups and developers. In particular, Le Maire singles out the way that Apple and Google unilaterally impose prices and contractual terms on software devs.
“As powerful as they are, Google and Apple should not be able to treat our startups and our developers the way they currently do,” Le Maire told the audience on RTL Radio.
The main concerns appear to be related to Apple and Google’s ability to decide the commission they take, their imposition of contract terms on developers who wish to use their services, and the fact that they can unilaterally change these terms at any time. Last year, Apple revealed that its global developer community has earned over $70 billion since the App Store launched in 2008.
Le Maire also said that he expects the European Union to close tax loopholes that benefit tech giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon by the start of 2019. At present, Brussels is currently examining measures to improve the taxation of overseas tech giants’ online business in European markets.
Apple vs. the European Union
Apple and Google’s monolithic size and scale has caused them considerable problems in the European Union. While the concern over app developers is new, both tech giants have previously faced off with the EU over their tax structures, which involves shifting profits from one country to the next to minimize payments.
The European Union handed Apple a 13 billion euros ($15.5 billion) tax bill in August 2016, claiming that the company took advantage of illegal state aid that allowed it to route profits through Ireland. The investigation alleged that Apple paid the equivalent of as little as 0.005 percent on all European profits in 2014. Earlier in 2018, Bruno Le Maire suggested that the EU plans to tax tech multinationals up to 6 percent of their global revenue.
What do you think of the EU standing up for app developers who use the platforms created by Apple and Google? Is it governmental overreach or an example of Europe sticking up for the little guy (or gal)? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.