Apple and representatives of Europe's independent labels (IMPALA) sat down together yesterday – to protest at the proposed merger between Sony and BMG.

"It's weird," a source told Macworld, "they are working with us to protest against this merger, but they aren't prepared to negotiate with us over the royalty rate for music sales."

The latter comment refers to Apple's failure to offer Europe's vibrant independent music sector a deal that makes sense. This means Apple isn't offering independent music through its European stores.

The merger between Sony and BMG is being reviewed by the European Union (EU) in a closed session. Europe's independents feel that the merger will make it harder for independent labels to bring their records to market.

It's believed the majors already abuse their market power, they said. A confidential EU statement of objections to the merger proposal allegedly claims that the move would "open the way for tacit agreements on price" – so called 'price-fixing'.

Apple meanwhile fears that the merger will give Sony an unfair competitive disadvantage in the blossoming online music space. Sony will launch its Sony Connect service this month.

Apple argued that the merged company "could use its dominance to prevent artists signing up to the service, forcing consumers to switch to rivals such as Sony's Connect to hear what they want," The Guardian reports.

The European Commission deadline for a decision on the merger is July 22.