German watchdog urges more competition in taxi market: paper

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 04, 2014 8:48 AM

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The arrival of online transport company Uber should be used to boost competition in Germany's taxi market, though regulators must make sure traditional services do not face disadvantages, the head of the country's competition watchdog said.

U.S. group Uber, which allows users to summon taxi-like services on their smartphones, has faced regulatory scrutiny and court injunctions from its early days, even as it has expanded rapidly into roughly 150 cities around the world.

Courts in Berlin and Hamburg last month upheld bans on the company, saying it did not comply with German laws on the carriage of passengers.

"More competition would not harm the taxi market," Andreas Mundt, president of the German cartel authority told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

"The impetus from Uber should be used to arrive at a more liberal interpretation of existing rules," he said, adding the current system, which regulates normal taxis more harshly than Uber services, was not sustainable.

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Uber has appealed against the bans in Germany, the latest front in its global battle to win regulatory approval in the face of stiff opposition from taxi services under threat from its business model.

(Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Mark Potter)