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Top EU court sides with France in case against Uber managers

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In another legal setback for Uber, the European Court of Justice has said France is allowed to bring criminal proceedings against managers of the ride-hailing app without notifying the European Commission in advance.

The EUs top court ruled Tuesday that European Union member states "may prohibit and punish, as a matter of criminal law, the illegal exercise of transport activities in the context of the UberPop service without notifying the European Commission in advance of the draft legislation." The case under review concerned Ubers use of unlicensed drivers as part of its UberPop intermediation service in France, which has since been suspended. 

Theres a provision in the French Transportation Code making the intermediation of unlicensed transport services a criminal offence in the country. The ride-hailing company had argued that France should have sought the EU executives approval of its proposed taxi law — something it did not do — and that therefore the criminal charges brought against two of Ubers French managers were not valid. 

Legal subtleties 

Under EU law, national legislation affecting digital services need indeed to be prenotified to Brussels to ensure its not distorting the single market. The ruling was hence about the scope of the blocs Digital Single Market (DSM) and the Commissions oversight powers. The general notification procedure puts the EU executive in a position to engage in constructive dialogue with member states when concerns are identified. But in its Tuesday ruling, the European Court of Justice argued that since Uber was offering a transport service under EU law, the obligation to notify the Commission in advance did not apply. 

hg/jd (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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