29 June 2023



Spain Spain
Geographical scope
  • Type


  • Type

    Regulation of passenger transport

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As part of a royal decree law on June 28, 2023, the Spanish Government further modified the Land Transport Regulation (LOTT) to adjust criteria in the framework of rules which authorises use of VTCs in the country. The specificity's of regulating VTC is left to the 17 autonomous regions, but LOTT sets the national framework upon which decisions are made. The new criteria for autonomous regions' authorities aim to restrict the number of VTCs in operation, taking into account environmental needs, effective management of public space and declaring Taxi as a 'service of public interest'.

Under the new criteria, VTCs 'will be subject to compliance with criteria for improving air quality, reducing emissions and managing traffic and the public space', this will include:

  • VTC authorisation will be denied if the car being used in operation of the service exceeds the air quality threshold and the 'objective criteria related to the reduction of CO2 emmissions'.
  • Autonomous regions must establish 'an objective criterion of road congestion' for traffic management.
  • Additional criteria which are 'proportionate' and 'justified for reasons of public interest' can be introduced by authorities in the autonomous regions to further limit the registration of VTCs.
  • New requirements to avoid bad practices include regulations on the financial leasing of vehicles and the attachment of a licence to the VTC vehicle.
  • the criteria will impact new and pending license requests.

Importantly, the new amendments define Taxis as a 'service of public interest'. This is a paradigm shift for the industry as it introduces new operational rules, fundamentally changes the conditions of the market and opens new avenues for fiscal support. This delineates Taxis from VTCs, becoming a function of Spain's transport system, requiring Taxis to have a guaranteed quality, accessibility and universality. Access to public finance for the public transport needs of citizens is also included in this new status.

Unauto-VTC and Feneval, two of the main employer associations for the VTC intermediary companies that operate between the platforms and the drivers, said they would ask the European Commission to start a procedure against the Spanish Government in response to the law, describing the law as “discriminatory and disproportionate”.

The Spanish Supreme Court is yet to make a judgement on the consequences of the CJEU ruling. However, if they rule in a manner which is in favour of the new decree law, it will be difficult for new political coalitions in the government to impose changes.


The law comes after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on 8 June, 2023, that the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona’s 2018 regulation, which restricts VTC licenses to one in 30 taxis, was not compliant with EU laws on fair competition. President of the employers' association UNAUTO-VTC, José Manuel Berzal - as well as Uber, Cabify and Bolt - viewed the ruling as a 'turning point' for ridehail platforms and drivers. However, as part of the CJEU ruling, the Court stated 'the objectives of sound management of transport, traffic and public space, on the one hand, and environmental protection on the other', while also respecting the principle of 'proportionality' would be appropriate for such regulation.

Elité Taxi Barcelona, the trade union leading the regulation which was overruled by the CJEU and consulted closely with government on the new regulatory framework, has launched a public information campaign shortly before the Spanish Government's announcement. The campaign aims to convert VTC drivers to the taxi industry, promoting the higher wages and fewer working hours.

Additional metadata

labour market access, platform characteristics and business model, sector aspects, competition, lobbying, green economy, regulatory changes
Transportation and storage



Eurofound (2023), Spanish Government announces Taxis are a public service, new environmental conditions further restrict number of private hire vehicles (VTC) (Initiative), Record number 4275, Platform Economy Database, Dublin,