The Supreme Court has left the future of chauffeur-driven transport vehicles (VTC) in our country in the hands of Europe. The contentious-administrative judges have decided to submit a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) regarding key aspects of the regulations regarding this type of transport. They ask, above all, if the rule that imposes a 1/30 ratio between VTC and taxi licenses is compatible with the European rules on freedom of establishment.
Keys to understand the conflict between taxis and VTCs
The judges have been studying for days a lawsuit initiated by a company in the sector, Maxi Mobility Spain, against a decision by the Community of Madrid to reject 1,000 authorizations for VTC cars in the region. The litigation was joined to another one from the Superior Court of Catalonia which, according to the Supreme Court, reaches a conclusion that "does not fit the reality" of the doctrine that the judges have handled until now.
The regulation that the Supreme Court is now asking about was established in 2018. Since then, the Land Transport Regulation Law explains that, in order to “maintain the proper balance between” the taxi and the VTC, the authorities will deny new licenses to the latter. business model when in that autonomous community the proportion between both types of licenses is 1/30 in favor of the taxi. One VTC for every 30 taxis.
The Supreme Court has already endorsed these restrictions in 2018 although in relation to a previous regulation, from the year 2015. But in that case, say the judges, they did not ask for a preliminary ruling because the resource they studied from the CNMC was focused from another perspective, that of “the Law of Guarantee of the Unity of Market”.
That is why he now poses three questions to the CJEU. The first, and first filter for the others, is whether this imposition on the VTC of limitations subject to the principle of proportionality with taxis is compatible with the freedom of establishment. Also if it is equally compatible that this maximum proportion of authorizations be imposed, which in Spain has been located at 1/30. Finally, the Supreme asks if these limitations are compatible with the prohibition of State aid contemplated in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.