May 10, 2017 / 9:30 AM / a year ago

EU to tackle complaints over unfair trading practices by tech companies

* EU presents mid-term review of digital strategy

* EU identified some unfair business practices by online platforms

* Will propose dispute resolution mechanisms, more transparency

By Julia Fioretti

BRUSSELS, May 10 (Reuters) - The European Union executive is planning a law to target unfair practices by leading online players such as Apple and Google that smaller European competitors say is an abuse of their market positions.

The European Commission said on Wednesday it would prepare an initiative by the end of the year to address unfair contractual clauses and trading practices in relations between platforms and businesses.

This follows proposals to remove barriers in online services to improve European companies’ chances of competing against U.S. tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook.

European companies such as Spotify, Rocket Internet and Deezer have complained that online platforms - such as search engines and app stores - abuse their position as gateways to customers to promote their own services or impose imbalanced terms and conditions.

The Commission said on Wednesday that initial findings of an investigation launched last year showed platforms were delisting products or services without due notice, restricting access to data or not making search result rankings transparent enough.

The Commission wants to establish fair practice criteria, measures to improve transparency and a system to help resolve disputes.

Spotify hit out at Apple last year after it rejected an updated app for the Swedish music streaming service on iPhones, saying it diminished its competitiveness on iOS.

$1 = 0.9186 euros Reporting by Julia Fioretti; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Jane Merriman

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