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EU to hit Apple with antitrust charge this week - source

Reuters

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A 3D-printed Apple logo is seen in front of a displayed European Union flag in this illustration taken September 2, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

EU antitrust regulators are set to charge iPhone maker Apple (AAPL.O) this week with blocking rivals on its App Store following a complaint by music streaming service Spotify (SPOT.N), a person familiar with the matter has said, writes Foo Yun Chee.

The move, the first EU antitrust charge against Apple, could lead to a fine as much as 10% of Apple's global revenue and changes in its lucrative business model.

Reuters was the first to report about the imminent EU antitrust charge in March.

Sweden's Spotify took its grievance to the European Commission in 2019, saying Apple unfairly restricts rivals to its own music steaming service Apple Music.

It also complained about the 30% fee levied on app developers to use Apple's in-app purchase system (IAP).

The EU competition enforcer, which has four Apple investigations including the Spotify complaint, declined to comment.

Apple referred to its March 2019 blog following the Spotify complaint, which said its App Store helped its rival to benefit from hundreds of millions of app downloads to become Europe's largest music streaming service.

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Inauguration of the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking Headquarters in Luxembourg

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, together with Luxembourg's Foreign and European Affair Minister Jean Asselborn, and Economy Minister Franz Fayot, inaugurated the headquarters of the European High Performance Computing (EuroHPC) Joint Undertaking in Luxembourg. Commissioner Breton said: “I am delighted to inaugurate the new home for European HPC. Supercomputing is key for the digital sovereignty of the EU. High Performance Computers are crucial to harness the full potential of data — notably for AI applications, health research and industry 4.0. We are massively investing in this cutting-edge technology for Europe to remain ahead of the global tech race.” The mission of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking is to pool European and national resources to procure and deploy world-class supercomputers and technologies.

Supercomputers will help European researchers and industry to make significant advances in areas such as bio-engineering, personalised medicine, fighting against climate change, weather forecasting, as well as in the discovery of drugs and of new materials that will benefit all EU citizens. The Commission is committed to supporting research and innovation for new supercomputing technologies, systems and products, as well as fostering the necessary skills to use the infrastructure and build a world-class ecosystem in Europe. A Commission proposal for a new EuroHPC JU Regulation, presented in September 2020, aims to enable a further investment of €8 billion to help drive and expand the work of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking in order to provide the next generation of supercomputers and to support an ambitious HPC research and innovation agenda in the EU. More information will be available in this press release by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking.

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Vega: Launch of the first world-class supercomputer in the EU

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The European Commission, together with the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking and the government of Slovenia has inaugurated the operation of the Vega Supercomputer at a high-level ceremony in Maribor, Slovenia. This marks the launch of a first EU supercomputer procured jointly with EU and member state funds, with a joint investment of €17.2 million.

A Europe Fit for the Digital Age Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said:“We are celebrating today the launch of the Vega supercomputer – the first of several. Supercomputing will open new doors for European SMEs to compete in tomorrow's high tech economy. Even more importantly, by supporting artificial intelligence to identify the molecules for breakthrough drug treatments, by tracking infections for COVID and other diseases, European supercomputing can help save lives.”

Executive Vice President Vestager participated in the launch ceremony on 20 April together with the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša. The new Vega supercomputer is capable of 6.9 Petaflops of computer power and will support the development of applications in many domains, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and high-performance data analytics. It will help European researchers and industry to make significant advances in bio-engineering, weather forecasting, the fight against climate change, personalised medicine, as well as in the discovery of new materials and drugs that will benefit EU citizens. The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking pools European and national resources to procure and deploy world-class supercomputers and technologies.

In addition to Vega in Slovenia, EuroHPC supercomputers have been acquired and are being installed in the following centres: Sofia Tech Park in Bulgaria, IT4Innovations National Supercomputing Center in Czechia, CINECA in Italy, LuxProvide in Luxembourg, Minho Advanced Computing Center in Portugal, and CSC – IT Center for Science in Finland. Moreover, a Commission proposal for a new Regulation for the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, presented in September 2020, aims to enable a further investment of €8 billion in the next generation of supercomputers, including emerging technologies such as quantum computers. More information will be available in this press release by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking.

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Cheaper phone calls among EU countries, a reality from today

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From today, Wednesday 15 May, phone calls among EU member states will be cheaper thanks to the European Electronic Communication Code, adopted by the European Parliament in November last year.   

The new law, caps the price of calls at a maximum of 19 eurocents for both mobile and fixed calls (so-called ‘intra-EU calls’) and it also caps SMS at a maximum of 6 eurocents.  The adoption of this regulation was the next step after the EU abolished roaming costs in 2017, which already capped calls and texts to national rates while roaming in other EU countries.

Asked to comment, Vice-Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee MEP Dita Charanzová said:  “I am proud of what we have achieved for European consumers. Rates have been unjustly high for too long. We are one Union and there was no logical reason for these costs. I hope this will be the end of bill-shock in Europe.”

In addition to Intra-EU calls, the new law also includes more long-term and principled measures. Starting from 2020, every European citizen will have a right to an affordable broadband internet connection. The law requires each European country to ensure, through either a voucher or a social tariff, that low income or disadvantage citizens can afford an internet connection.

“Internet must be seen as a utility. Just as we would not deny access to electricity or gas or water, no one should be denied access to the internet just because they are disadvantaged,” added Charanzová.

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