Uber files second complaint against French law

French cab drivers have protested against Uber, calling it unfair competition. [jean pierre gallot/Flickr]

Uber has filed a second complaint to the European Commission against a French law that the online taxi-booking service says favours regular taxis at its expense, the company said on Tuesday.

Uber filed a complaint with the Commission last November, the first of a series of challenges to EU member states reluctant to open their markets to the US firm.

A spokesman for Uber confirmed a report by French business daily Les Echos, which says it has seen a copy of the complaint that aims to put pressure on the European Commission to open an investigation quickly.

According to Les Echos, Uber complained that “the measures laid down in the law seriously infringe a number of basic provisions and principles of European Union law.

“Yes, we confirm this,” the spokesman said. “The information published by Les Échos is fully accurate.”

Launched in California four years ago, the service has rapidly become popular in a number of countries because it often undercuts established taxi and minicab services.

The Commission was not immediately available for comment. In December, it said it had received Uber’s complaint and was assessing whether, as Uber believes, France should have notified it of the new law. 

In April 2014, the former EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes slammed the decision of a Belgian court to ban Uber, a US-owned taxi-service application, and lashed out at a Belgian minister for taking this initiative with the aim of “protecting a cartel” of Brussels taxis.

According to Kroes, the decision was not about protecting or helping passengers – “it's about protecting a taxi cartel”, she said.

The Brussels court ordered a ban on Uber including a €10,000 fine for every ride, saying that drivers who use the service do not pay for appropriate licences.

In reaction to protests, a number of European courts and governments have repeatedly warned Uber to change its operating system, but with no success as yet.

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