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European Publishers Accuse Apple and Google of Violating New EU App Store Regulations

The European Publishers Council (EPC) has today submitted a comprehensive Memorandum to the European Commission (EC), calling out Apple and Google’s attempts to circumvent new EU rules aimed at restoring fairness and competition in digital markets.

European Publishers Council Submits Concrete Proposals to the European Commission for Strict Enforcement of DMA’s App Store Rules

The EPC highlights critical shortcomings in how Apple and Google are implementing app store provisions under the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and how this impacts Europe’s press publishers.

With more people accessing news through apps on iOS and Android devices, the EPC underscores the DMA’s significance in fostering a fair and competitive digital market.

Angela Mills Wade, Executive Director of the EPC said: “For years, press publishers have grappled with Apple and Google’s restrictive app store policies, including tactics to prevent competition in app distribution and payment solutions, and the imposition of unfair and discriminatory fees. The EPC fully supported the DMA to ensure fairness and competition but Apple and Google’s current implementation plans undermine these goals, perpetuating high fees and limited competition.”

The EPC supports the EC’s swift action to investigate compliance with Article 5(4) and has provided concrete proposals to the European Commission. The EPC emphasizes a broad interpretation of Article 5(4), advocating for maximum freedom for app developers to present attractive offers to users. Additionally, they call for the enforcement of Article 6(12) and the fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) principle.

Key Points from the EPC’s Analysis

  1. Burden of Proof: Apple and Google must demonstrate how their fees comply with the DMA, not the other way around. EPC proposes a method for justified fees across all app categories.
  2. Fee Justification: Apple and Google should not charge different fees for digital content apps versus apps selling physical goods unless objectively justified. If they cannot justify this, a uniform “no transaction fee” should apply.
  3. Reasonable Fees: If fees are necessary, they should be reasonable and consistent across all payment methods and app categories. Apple and Google may be allowed to charge a one-time acquisition fee in some circumstances. Any additional fee should be justified by the provision of a specific service, which app developers should be free to use or not; it should also be FRAND.
  4. Non-Discriminatory Practices: Any exclusive deals for certain app developers should be available to all, upholding the essential role of media publishers as highlighted in the European Media Freedom Act.
  5. Core Technology Fee: Apple’s Core Technology Fee (CTF) is deemed unfair, excessive, and non-compliant with Articles 6(4) and 6(7) of the DMA.
  6. User Experience: Unnecessary friction, such as “scare screens” or UX restrictions, introduced by Apple and Google must be removed to enhance user experience and competition.

The EPC calls on the European Commission to rigorously enforce all DMA provisions related to app stores to ensure fair competition and protect consumers. Failure to do so would render the DMA a missed opportunity.

About the European Publishers Council

The EPC is a high-level group of leading European media organizations committed to ensuring the sustainability of a diverse and independent press. Through advocacy and collaboration, the EPC aims to promote fair and competitive digital markets.