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'Oh great Commission, save us from the French' pleads Uber

Ride-share app turns to EU for help in battles with legal hordes of France, Spain

Uber has filed three official complaints with the European Commission, a spokesman confirmed.

The two latest actions are against France and Spain, where the ride-sharing service is banned. The third complaint was also made against France last year. The Commish refused to go into detail about the content of the complaints, simply confirming that they had been received and would be examined, adding that this does not necessarily mean there will be infringement proceedings.

The key question for the Commission is whether to treat Uber as a technology services or a transport company. The spokesbod initially stated that the case was being looked by DG MOVE – the Commission’s transport department. However, he backtracked when specifically asked if that meant the Commission had made up its mind.

"We can’t draw any conclusions today. We don’t close the door to opportunities offered by new technologies, but that has to happen within the existing legislative framework,” the spokesman explained.

Official Commish spokeswoman Mina Andreeva added: “Several services in the Commission are working together looking at the complaints, because in the digital world it is quite difficult to define whether this concerns technology or a transport service. A more general approach is needed. After all, you can buy airline tickets online, but it is still considered a transport service."

Taxi laws come under the competence of member states rather than the Commission, but national rules must adhere to the principles of “proportionality, non-discrimination and freedom to establish”. This last right is the one that Uber contests is being infringed.

Yesterday, a French judge referred an appeal to ban Uber's controversial UberPop app to the national high court.

Meanwhile, the Dutch Transport Inspectorate last week carried out raids on Uber's Amsterdam office. The company is also in hot water in Germany and Belgium, so it’s unlikely the European Commission will come galloping to the rescue on a pan-EU level. ®

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