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EU Judgment in Case C-50/21 Prestige and Limousine

08 June 2023

Thursday 8th June 2023

Judgment in Case C-50/21 Prestige and Limousine

(Freedom of establishment)

Both taxis and ‘private hire vehicles’ (‘PHVs’) carry out local private transport services. In Spain, PHVs traditionally catered for the inter-urban transport market, but they have found their way into intra-urban transport in recent years. As a result, the traditional taxi model, shielded from competition thanks to State regulation, has come under challenge. As more and more suppliers of PHV services appeared, the Spanish regulator stepped in at national and local level.

In the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (‘the AMB’) (Spain), specific licences are required to be able to provide urban PHV services and such licences are limited to 1 licence for every 30 taxi licences. In practice, as the number of taxi licences has remained stable for the past 35 years, this means that newcomers to the PHV market are prevented from accessing them. Regarding the additional licence required, at the material time, licences to operate as a PHV allowed for the provision of ‘urban and inter-urban services throughout the national territory’.

Prestige and Limousine S.L. (P&L) is a holder of licences to operate a PHV service within the AMB. It challenges before the High Court of Justice, Catalonia (Spain) and seeks to have annulled the local regulation concerning PHV services in the whole AMB. There are several such cases pending before the national court. Fourteen of the companies that were already providing PHV services in the area, including P&L and companies linked to international platforms, consider that the purpose of the limitations and restrictions imposed on them by the local regulation is to hinder their activity and to protect the interests of the taxi sector.

The national court has doubts about the compatibility with EU Law of both the limit imposed on the number of PHV licences and the ‘dual licence’ regime PHVs have been subject to in the AMB, which could be seen as a strategy aimed at minimising competition from PHV services vis-à-vis taxis.

The Court of Justice is thus invited to assess whether that local regulation meets the requirements of the freedom of establishment under Article 49 TFEU, which applies to services in the field of transport.

Background Documents C-50/21

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08 June 2023
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