October 4, 2014 / 12:52 PM / in 4 years

German watchdog urges more competition in taxi market: paper

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.

An illustration picture shows the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign in Frankfurt, September 15, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

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.

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

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