Controversial taxi company Uber has filed a complaint with the European Commission, claiming restrictions placed on its use in Spain go against EU law.
The company presented its official complaint against Spain to the commission on 30 March; the document alleges that Spanish legislation is acting to "protect the traditional monopoly of taxis". The complaint comes in the wake of similar disputes raised by Uber to authorities in France and Germany.
Having only arrived in Spain a year ago, a court injunction against Uber was requested by the Association Madrileña Del Taxi in December 2014, and at the end of the month a formal ruling arrived on Uber's doorstep, preventing it from operating in the country. Uber's Spanish team said in a blog post at the time: "We are temporarily suspending Uber Pop in Spain while we appeal the court ruling and look to develop new options to give Spaniards access to safe, reliable rides."
Drivers found flouting the ban receive penalties of up to €18,000 (£14,000, $22,500) and could have their cars immobilised under new laws imposed by Madrid's local government.
Filed to Brussels, the document outlines five types of violations, reports El Pais, which has seen the complaint. These relate to directives covering electronic commerce and services, the principle of technological neutrality, the freedom to offer services, and even the fundamental rights of the EU.
One of Uber's key points raised in the complaint is that it is not directly responsible for the transportation of people. Instead, the company argues that it acts as an electronic intermediary which "offers a social service, a service of connecting persons who want to share their car." However, the way passengers use the app is just about identical to a regular taxi company; a route is requested and a fixed tariff is charged, of which 20% is revenue for Uber.
The complaint also sees Uber request it be treated by Spanish authorities similarly to websites offering flights for sale; these sell travel services, like Uber, but operate in the industry of technology services, not travel companies. The EU is yet to rule on whether it should treat Uber as an electronic or transport service.