European Commission supports Uber in challenge against French taxi law
Tue 19 Apr 2016
The European Commission is backing U.S.-based Uber in challenging a French law on taxi services and chauffeured vehicles, which the ride-hailing giant believes favours regulated taxis over app-based systems.
The Thévenoud Law [French], established in October 2014, stipulates that taxi services operate from a base between fares and restricts the use of software to locate customers. It also bans unlicensed services, among other requirements.
Uber, which has faced strong opposition in France, has now filed a formal complaint with the EC against the law. It argues that the French measures unfairly support regular taxi services and presents barriers to the growth of ride-sharing apps.
The EC is preparing to release a letter of formal notice, representing the first step in an infringement procedure where Brussels will assess whether the national legislation breaches EU treaties. If the two parties do not reach an agreement, the Commission could end up taking France to court.
While no final decision has been made, the challenge could come as early as next month.
A 2015 EC memo had confirmed that the organisation was looking at ways it can ‘encourage the development of new and innovative services and the temporary use of assets, without favouring one business model over another.’ It detailed that next steps going into 2016 would include ‘guidance on how EU law applies to collaborative economy business models and an assessment of possible regulatory gaps.’
Last summer Uber was forced to suspend its cheapest taxi-hailing service UberPOP (UberX) in France as a precautionary safety measure. The decision came following the arrest of two Uber France managers for alleged ‘illicit activities.’ French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve had previously ordered a ban on the service after several days of nationwide riots and protests against the app in July.