"The Commission will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition in the EU or in the EEA," EC officials said.
Apple's agreements for the iBookstore reportedly allow publishers to set ebook prices, with the company taking a predetermined cut. Normally, retailers are free to set their own prices, as resale price maintenance (an arrangement where a supplier forces its resellers to keep prices above a certain level) is generally prohibited in the EU.
Earlier this year, the EC conducted "unannounced inspections" of certain companies active in ebook publishing, suspecting anticompetitive behaviour. The EC has also been cooperating with the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT). According to the EC statement, the OFT has "closed its investigation on grounds of administrative priority" but will continue to cooperate with the EC investigation.