French finance minister Bruno Le Maire today announced that the country will be taking legal action against Apple and Google for "abusive commercial practices." Specifically, Le Maire said that the tech companies are taking advantage of French developers with these practices and that the fines from such a legal action could be in the "millions of euros" (via Bloomberg and Reuters).
Speaking on RTL radio, Le Maire said that he has recently become aware of practices performed by Apple and Google, where the companies "unilaterally" impose their prices and tweak other contractural terms with app developers to their liking. After discovering this, Le Maire led the ministry's fraud office into an investigation and found that between 2015 and 2017 there were "significant imbalances" in the relationships between Apple/Google and developers who sold apps on their stores.
“I learned that when developers develop their applications, and sell to Google and Apple, their prices are imposed, Google and Apple take all their data, Google and Apple can unilaterally rewrite their contracts,” Le Maire said on RTL radio. “All that is unacceptable and it’s not the economy that we want. They can’t treat our startups and developers the way they do.”
Le Maire went on to state that despite their power, Apple and Google "should not be able to treat" French startups and developers "the way they currently do." The legal action will take place in the Paris commercial court.
Le Maire also mentioned that he expects the European Union to officially close the tax loopholes benefiting Apple and other tech companies -- Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. -- by the start of 2019.
The loopholes are said to have allowed Apple to "minimize taxes and grab market share" at the expense of Europe-based companies. France's crackdown on these loopholes accelerated during a meeting of European Union officials last September, which now appears to be on track to end by early next year.