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Parliamentary questions
7 May 2012
P-004591/2012
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE)

 Subject: Cross-border transport by taxi between France and Spain
 Answer(s) 

In the border area between France and Spain, and specifically between the Languedoc-Roussillon region and Catalonia, there is a high level of cross-border mobility. There is great demand for cross-border transport. In some cases, residents cannot use their own car or public transport to cross the border. This mainly applies to the elderly and people living in rural areas, as well as those travelling in the evening or at night. Residents of France therefore often use taxis to take them to the nearest Spanish airport or to take them home. French legislation allows a taxi to pick up a passenger who has made an advance booking in any municipality. This gives passengers freedom of choice and they can thus enjoy a service that is more tailored to their needs, comfort and safety. Spanish legislation, however, is stricter and bans taxis from picking up passengers outside their designated municipality. Only Catalan taxis with a Spanish intercity transport licence can operate outside their municipality, to serve Catalan ports and airports.

These restrictions effectively encourage only Catalan taxi firms to pick up passengers, and ignore the cross-border dimension of the transport service, which, in this case, potentially constitutes a barrier to the freedom to provide services. Consequently, on 27 January 2012 and 16 April 2012, two French private taxi drivers were fined by the Spanish authorities: one was fined EUR 1 001 in La Jonquera, and the other EUR 1 501 at Girona Airport.

Nevertheless, Article 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union lays down that: ‘restrictions on freedom to provide services within the Union shall be prohibited in respect of nationals of Member States who are established in a Member State other than that of the person for whom the services are intended.’ Services, as defined in Article 57, include activities of craftsmen (and hence of self-employed taxi drivers).

Furthermore, as the Commission stated in its answer to the parliamentary question of 28 October 2010 (P‑9070/2010), national rules have to respect the general principles of EC law such as proportionality, non-discrimination and freedom of establishment. These rules are meant to ensure a certain level of service quality, but they must be justified, proportionate and applied on a non-discriminatory basis.

Does the Commission believe that the Catalan legislation constitutes a barrier to freedom to provide services?
Does the Commission believe that the fines imposed are proportionate?
If not, does the Commission plan to make representations to the Spanish authorities to ensure that the fines are annulled and the money repaid?
If the Commission believes that there is no barrier to freedom to provide services, does it intend to propose a clearer legal framework for cross-border transport services for fewer than eight passengers?

Original language of question: FROJ C 166 E, 12/06/2013
Last updated: 23 May 2012Legal notice