The French finance minister has announced plans to sue Google and Apple for ‘abusive trade practices’.
Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday that he plans to take both tech giants to court for unfair contracts imposed upon French start-up firms.
Mr Le Maire said the action could result in fines of millions of euros for both firms.
Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, announced he is taking legal action against Apple and Google as part of a drive by the government to make their entrepreneurs competitive
‘I believe in an economy based on justice and I will take Google and Apple before the Paris Commercial Court for abusive business practices’, Le Maire said on RTL radio.
He accused Google and Apple of imposing tariffs on developers wishing to sell their apps to the internet giants.
Le Maire added he finds unacceptable that both companies can also gather data from the developers and ‘unilaterally modify contracts.’
‘I consider that Google and Apple, as powerful as they are, shouldn’t treat our start-ups and our developers in the way they do today,’ said Le Maire.
Le Maire has previously threatened to tax the two firms based on their sales in France, denouncing the legal strategies they use to pay taxes at lower rates in other EU countries.
Le Maire accused Apple and Google of imposing tariffs on developers, of gathering data on the start-ups, and unilaterally changing contracts, which he says is unfair
He added that he hopes the EU will close tax loopholes benefiting Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon by the start of 2019.
‘My responsiblity is to ensure economic law and order,’ said Le Maire. ‘There are rules. There is justice. It should be respected.’
The action against the firms comes as US President Donald Trump has moved towards imposing a 25 per cent tariff on imported steel and 10 per cent tariff on imports of aluminium.
It is unclear if European nations will obtain waivers, with Trump having singled out the EU as treating the United States badly in trade ties and threatening to tax cars as well.
Tech start-ups are a favourite of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has sought to overhaul the nation’s laws and regulations to allow entrepreneurs to flourish.