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The ‘regulatory chaos’ and the judicial fight of the VTC survive despite the CJEU ruling

Date: May 22, 2024 Time: 11:21:00

A “regulatory chaos” in the different communities that will continue at least in the short and medium term and a judicial fight that has not only come to stay but, even, to intensify. The judgment of the Superior Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) on the VTC and taxi sector establishes some limits for the regulations on this market but leaves certain doors open that could give rise to more lawsuits that will last for years to come os and that will entangle the skein even more. All sectors have been left tattered in the contest. And all parties agree that it will not be the only battlefield, while thousands of licenses still result in the forward.

Uber, Cabify or Bolt have seen how the second regional license, which has reduced activity in communities such as Catalonia and has prevented miles of cars with national authorizations from operating after the latest decree-law approved by the Generalitat, is still alive (although with more nuances ). Taxi drivers have lost their star shield as a “public service and of general interest”, on which many of the restrictions imposed by national and regional governments were based in the past. They will no longer justify any limit to their rivals in this.

What have been the defeats of the taxi? The main one is the loss of that shell as a public service. The Supreme Court endorsed the relationship of one VTC for every 30 taxis based precisely on that “public service and general interest”. The loss of that category opens many doors and could weaken them to defend depending on which applications. As explained by various sources in the vehicle with driver (VTC) sector, this means that “it does not have to be protected” as has happened up to now. They interpret from the sentence that the same requirements for them could be extrapolated for the taxi. But, as in all matters related to this market, this would imply a new regulatory battle.

the big defeats

The other relevant defeat of the taxi has to do with the ratio of 1-30. This was established in the ‘Ábalos decree’ and was ratified by the Supreme Court. Today it is not in force ‘de facto’, since the flood of licenses that occurred between 2015 and 2019 -due to the ‘legal hole’ of the omnibus law- blew up that proportion. But it served as an ‘excuse’ to reject further authorizations from the communities. The sentence leaves it without effect, because the judges understand that it goes against community law. But It Puts A SIGN That Again Serves As An Argument Potential Litigation Or Future Legal Modifications: It Goes Against The European Union Treaty “When I have not Aya Accredited That That Measure Is Appropriate To Guarantee The Achievement Of Good Transport, Traffic Management Objectives and the public space”.

The defeat of the VTC sector has to do with the second license. The ‘Ábalos decree’ allowed communities to demand a new permit to regulate the operation of these licenses at the local level. And communities like Catalonia imposed them and have eliminated the possibility of operating several miles from national permit holders. The ideal scenario for them would have been for this figure to be ‘knocked over’. But the Court understands that it does not go against European regulations as long as it is based on “objective, non-discriminatory and known criteria in advance, which exclude any arbitrariness and do not overlap with the controls already duplicated in the framework of the authorization procedure” local”.

Of course, there are restrictions such as the minimum length of the cars and other aspects that are included in the regulations of the national transport law, so if they are included as requirements for the second license they would go against the European criteria. And these would lose their effect in regulations such as the Catalan one. But, as it happens in many aspects, this must be denounced before the courts. And it is a decree law, whose nature reduces the judicial doors that touch mainly the Constitutional Court.

This is a ruling on a preliminary ruling from the TSJ of Catalonia. The reality is that it will be the Supreme who, in the end, has the last word. The CJEU determines that it must be the national court that establishes whether these criteria have been respected and whether the ability to deny authorizations from the administration has been used “arbitrarily”. It is, therefore, the one in charge of the ‘fine line’, because the established requirements are raised in a more or less open way. To make the situation even more complex, it must be taken into account that the Spanish High Court has another prejudicial matter presented before Luxembourg, on similar regulatory matters, which must be resolved in the coming months -the logical thing is that it extends these same conclusions but it could go back to the bottom of the matter.

the victories

In the chapter of victories, the VTC has not achieved total deregulation -something difficult to achieve given the background in other markets- of the sector, but it has seen how the CJEU removed some of the ‘privileges’ maintained by the taxi as a service public Among taxi drivers, the greatest achievement is to save time. During the last years they have moved a good part of the battle from the street to the offices. And with the pressure on the administrations, they have been adding months to the calendar with the approval of decrees and regulations that have subsequently been appealed in the courts.

Be that as it may, this new ruling will not only stop the legal battle but, as most of the sources consulted affirm, it could intensify it. To modify decree laws it will be necessary to go to the courts and the times are very long. As an example, this case of the CJUE: it pronounces on a decree that is not in force, which was promoted by a mayoress, Ada Colau, who is no longer so. Do the criteria used by the administrations to impose restrictions do not comply with the European jurisprudence that became known this Thursday? It must be required by the VTC in judicial instances.

Some communities have already been making a move or will do so in the coming months. Last April, the Community of Madrid issued a decree law giving the green light to the sanctioning regime of its transport law and in which it states that it will deny new authorizations “for the purpose of preserving the balanced development of the different forms of passenger transport in tourism” based on the number of VTC, taxis “and the population as a whole whose mobility needs must be guaranteed”. Catalonia, which is the most affected by this sentence, has its decree in force until 2024 (extendable for another two years). approve the transport law for a good coexistence between the taxi and the VTC”.

What about the licenses?

The other question that arises after the CJEU ruling is clear: what happens to the miles of denied licenses that are appealed in court? The reality is that they could be authorized but they will be national in nature and will have to submit to regional regulation. In the VTC sector there are different feelings. Among the platforms there is a certain consensus that the less you limit, the better. But among the large holders of authorizations, among which is also Cabify, they would not be especially decisive in a flood of titles in the coming years.

The only licenses that have all the ballots to be granted without short-term restrictions are those that were requested before the entry into force of the ‘Ábalos decree’ in September 2018. These would have a ‘grace period’ of four years until accept those restrictions. There is no exact figure, but the industry sources consulted speak of several thousand, with Cabify itself as one of the requests. There is a difficulty here: the company to which they are granted has a tighter deadline to implement these permits, assigning a car and starting the activity.

In conclusion, the legal sources consulted ensure that the short-term changes will be very limited, due to those legal times. The struggle in the offices of the administration will continue. And all eyes are also on the new governments that are formed, not only in the Generalitat of Catalonia, but also in the Spanish Executive. The ‘regulatory chaos’ will continue, while the Supreme Court will continue to be the next stop on this judicial ‘via crucis’.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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