Uber: more than an intermediation service

Uber: more than an intermediation service

The emergence of digital platforms has disrupted traditional consumption paradigms, giving rise to a new concept of economy – commonly named as sharing economy –, where ownership has been replaced by temporary, on-demand, and mediated access to goods and services shared by multiple individuals, including human labour, for monetary or non-monetary gain.[1].

From an economic perspective, its creative business models have disrupted many traditional industries, as transportation, accomodation and more over, by fundamentally changing the mechanism of matching demand with supply side in real time [2]. Almost numerous peer-to-peer platforms—in the likes of crowd-working (e.g., Airbnb, Uber, Amazon Mechanic Turk, E-Lance, Fiverr), co-innovation (e.g., Mindmixer, Social Innovator), crowd-funding (e.g., Kickstarter, Indiegogo), crowd-searching (e.g., Crowdfynd, CrowdSearching), and crowd-voting (e.g., California Report Card, Threadless) — have sprung up to facilitate both individuals and/or organizations to pool resources in resolving problems.

Sharing is, above all, an old social practice[3] which is currently being expanded and redefined through the addition of information technologies[4].

Critics, overall raised, have painted a dismal picture of this phenomenon as a means for individuals    – as well as firms – to dodge proper regulations and live beyond their means, which in turn contributes to doomsday scenarios of massive job displacements and spending habits detrimental to society.

Outlining the field of public transportation, Uber is  the well – known platform which facilitates trusted transactions between strangers[5], that is made possible by instantaneous internet communication and changes in the life, work, and purchasing habits of individual entrepreneurs and consumers[6].

The service provided aims at connecting individuals with non-professional drivers: this creates economic and other value, but it simultaneously raises a set of concerns around racial bias, safety, and fairness to competitors and workers that legal scholarship has begun to address. In light of the opportunities and challenges posed by, there is a clear urgency for a systematic and thorough scrutiny of how value creation and appropriation can take place within such economic environments, while minimizing its negative impact to society. The debate is becoming increasingly prominent in the context of the use of such service deals whether, and how, their operation should be regulated, or possibly deregulated, in correlation with their offline counterparts.

Uber and similar rideshare services are rapidly dispersing in cities across the United States and beyond. As a growing number of lawsuits are filed against Uber, several states have inaugurated reforms hoping to mitigate such problems:

  • California [7] established a new category of motor vehicle carriers known as Transportation Network Companies, that do not recognize Uber as a taxi service and require Uber drivers “to have certain insurance, perform background checks, and maintain drug and alcohol policies to ensure drivers are law abiding”;
  • Washington D.C.’s Vehicle for Hire Innovation Amendment Act,” which creates a new class for services like Uber, enforcing background checks and inspections, and specifically forbidding the manipulating fare charges.

While these policies work to ensure consumer protection, they still exempts companies like Uber from the numerous other regulations taxicab companies are subject to.

The European legal framework is not very different. Since its debut in 2011, this online taxi-hailing app has encountered tremendous opposition from local taxi services, which complain it unfairly competes by bypassing local licensing and safety laws.

With opposition growing all across Europe [8], the Spanish case referred to the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) [9] in 2014 a crucial determination, aimed at establishing whether the service provided by the platform could be merely considered a transport activity, or, on the contrary, “an electronic intermediation or information society service”.

If Uber had deemed an intermediary, it would have become tougher for national regulators to limit its operations under the EU’s 2006 Services Directive and the 2015 Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe.

If the ECJ, on the contrary, had determined Uber was a transportation service, it might be subject to local jurisdictional boundaries determined by each member state of the EU, empowering them to determine the legality of Uber’s practice, greatly affecting the growth and future of the sharing economy in Europe.

The ECJ found, in the judgment of December 20th, that Uber’ service was more than an intermediation one: it observed that the Uber app was “indispensable for both the drivers and the persons who wish to make an urban journey”.

As already emphasized by the Conclusion of the Advocate General, the UberPop service has been considered a mixed service.

In this regard, the Court declared that an intermediation service such as that, whose purpose is to connect, by means of a smartphone application and for remuneration, non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with persons who wish to make urban journeys, must be regarded as being inherently linked to a transport service and classified as a service in the field of transport. Consequently, it must be excluded from the scope of the freedom to provide services in general of the Service Directive, as well as the ones about the internal market and electronic commerce.

Therefore, the transport sector falls under art. 4, par. 2 TFEU, one of the areas in which the European Union has competing powers with the Member States.

Even if this new qualification, many other question, mainly about labour issues, over the status of drivers, cannot be considered solved.

In this regard, Uber has recently won a legal battle in France. The proceeding was about the employment status of drivers and it pointed out the complexity of every definitory or regulatory approach.

The French labour Tribunal, in contrast with Uk ruling, has decided Uber cannot be considered as an employer instead of be qualified as an indipendent contractor.

These issues lead us to reflect any regulation of the phenomenon is not further delayed. However, any approach lacking of a holistic view should be avoided: sharing economy is such a complex phenomenon, which includes competing priorities, involving public, private but also fundamental rights. For this reason, every rulemaking process – as the Italian one  – should seize the opportunity to proceed with consistent but, above all, effective reforms.


La recente sentenza della Corte di giustizia del 20 dicembre 2017 costituisce un tassello importante nella nota vicenda Uber, fornendo un importante orientamento per le singole legislazioni nazionali.

 

[1] S. Ranchordas, K. Zurek, Z. Gedeon, Home-Sharing in the Digital Economy: The Cases of Brussels, Stockholm, and Budapest: Impulse Paper prepared for the European Commission, www.europa.eu.

[2] Z. Li, Y. Hong, Yili, Z. Zhang, Do On-demand Ride-sharing Services Affect Traffic Congestion? Evidence from Uber Entry (August 30, 2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2838043.

[3] R. Belk, R., Sharing, Journal of Consumer Research, 36(5) (2010), pp. 715-734.

[4] M. Murphy,  Cities as the Original Sharing Platform: Regulation of the New “Sharing” Economy (2017), 12 J. Bus. & Tech. L. 127, p. 1.

[5] R. Calo, A. Rosenblat, The Taking Economy: Uber, Information, and Power (2017), Columbia Law Review, Vol. 117, 2017; University of Washington School of Law Research Paper No. 2017-08, http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2929643.

[6] M. Anderson, M. Huffman, The Sharing Economy Meets the Sherman Act: Is Uber a Firm, a Cartel, or Something in Between?  (2017), Columbia Business Law Review, Forthcoming; Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Research Paper No. 2017-8, available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=2954632.

[7] Barbara Berwick v Uber Technologies Inc., Labor Commissioner, State of California, State Case Number: 11–46739 EK, 3 June 2015, 43 W. St. U. L. Rev. 321 (2016), p. 2.

[8] William Louch, EU Commission Launces Study on Uber, PARLIAMENT MAG. (Sept. 1, 2015), https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/news/eu-commission-launches-study-uber.

[9] Julia Fioretti & Andrew Callus, Spanish Judge Asks EU Top Court for Key Uber Ruling, REUTERS (Jul. 20, 2015),

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/20/us-uber-eu-ecj-idUSKCN0PU1LP20150720.

COLLABORATION IN CITIES: FROM SHARING TO ‘SHARING ECONOMY’ –  The new WEF Whitepaper.

COLLABORATION IN CITIES: FROM SHARING TO ‘SHARING ECONOMY’ – The new WEF Whitepaper.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative has released its new whitepaper on «Collaboration in Cities: From Sharing to ‘Sharing Economy’».

The concept of Sharing Economy during the last years has become quite mainstream, even if the phenomenon represents one of the major disruptive innovations of the last century. Sharing is not something new of course, as it is an old concept as old as human civilization, to quote Gregory Hodkinson (Chairman, Arup Ltd and Chair of the World Economic Forum System Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative). But in the last years, thanks to the Internet and to the ICTs, new trends and mindsets about sharing have emerged. The proliferation of peer-to-peer social networks, together with global recession, an increased environmental awareness and the desire to rebuild social bonds and communities, have brought to the development and spread of the Sharing Economy. The WEF whitepaper underlines that the popularity of the phrase “sharing economy” has increased sixteenfold since 2013 according to Google Trends. Nevertheless, since there is not a common and unique definition, the term is often confused with overlapping terminologies such as “collaborative economy”, “on-demand economy”, “gig economy”, “freelance economy”, “peer economy”, “access economy”, “crowd economy”, “digital economy” and “platform economy” (see the distinction proposed by April Rinne on the WEF blog).

The spread of the phenomenon is having impacts on our way to consume, produce, distribute, work and travel, ultimately transforming our lives, boosting social cohesion and offering chances to reduce the environmental footprint.

As noted by Cheryl Martin, Head of Industries, World Economic Forum “while sharing may often decrease the cost of access, it also has the potential to address long-term societal challenges such as making cities more inclusive and building social connections between groups that might otherwise never have interacted. In experimenting with sharing practices, however, cities will also have to be agile in addressing externalities and disruption to their planning processes, policy formulation and regulatory structures”.

Gregory Hodkinson takes the same view: “The sharing economy is making cities redefine land-use strategies, minimize their costs, optimize public assets and collaborate with other actors (for-profits, non-profits, social enterprises, communities and other cities) in developing policies and frameworks that encourage continued innovation in this area”.

The WEF with its whitepaper is indeed exploring potential opportunities and challenges of the sharing economy in cities offering examples and solutions from cities around the world. It makes the case that sharing in cities can have a transformative impact – boosting the economy and nurturing a sense of community by bringing people into contact with one another, facilitating neighborliness, and improving the environment by making the most efficient use of resources. Cities have a potential role in facilitating/enabling and harnessing the sharing business models by fostering partnerships that shape a “sharing and collaborative” culture across all industry sectors.

The whitepaper is structured on answering 7 main questions:

1. What does Sharing Economy mean for cities?

The collaborative dynamics of the sharing economy have creative implications for cities. Sharing can create a sense of community among strangers, which helps to facilitate trust and social inclusion. From an environmental perspective, sharing can reduce overall use of resources through practices such as carpooling and co-working facilities. Sharing can also supplement supply in periods of peak demand […] rather than turning to additional construction”. The sharing economy platforms are growing in number and size all over the world and more and more people affirm to use their services. In some cities sharing practices are specifically used to increase inclusiveness (in US good example are Los Angeles and Minneapolis).

2. Who are the actors of the Sharing Economy?

The whitepaper identifies 6 categories: 1. Individual users (those who use P2P or B2P platforms for economic, social or environmental reasons); 2. For-Profit enterprises (profit-seekers who engage in buying, selling, lending, renting or trading with the aid of digital technologies – platforms, to lower transaction costs); 3. Social Enterprises/cooperatives (primarily motivated by social or ecological reasons); 4. Local Communities (Actors at the local or neighborhood level / non-profit and informal models; transactions are mainly non-monetized,  inter-personal connection is emphasized); 5. Non-profit Enterprises (non-business actors with the primary motivation of advancing a mission or purpose); 6. Public Sector/Government  (using public infrastructure to support or forge partnerships with other actors to promote innovative forms of sharing).

3. What are the drivers of sharing?

The economic, social and environmental drivers of participating in the sharing economy vary across sociodemographic groups and between users and providers”, for this reason, as reported in the whitepaper many cities have now offices and strategies for promoting sharing.

4. What is being shared in cities?

Individuals and collectives (social enterprises, cooperatives, for-profit and communities) can share a wide range of things, related to nine major groups: 1. Mobility and transportation; 2. Spaces; 3. Skills and talent; 4. Financing; 5. Health; 6. Utilities; 7. General Goods; 8. Food and 9. Learning.

The whitepaper emphasizes what can be shared by the city government since cities “can leverage the potential of the sharing economy in municipal goods, municipal spaces, civic assets, municipal services and skills and talent of city resident such as:

  • Municipal goods: City-owned equipment, machinery, vehicles and other goods can be shared among departments or with neighboring municipalities;
  • Municipal Spaces and Civic Assets: these include civic amenities or spaces such as gardens, subways, city run schools, hospitals and libraries, and city recreational centers. Idle capacity in municipal spaces can be used for urban farming, pop-up shops, parking and start-up hubs, supporting local business and culture. For example, Seoul operates a website to reserve sports facilities, lecture halls and meeting rooms for educational and cultural events;
  • Municipal Services: municipal governments in many areas have collaborative agreements to facilitate providing services to the citizens they serve, and have been working together in this way since long before the sharing economy”

 5. How can cities share?

Sometimes cities directly facilitate sharing practices, in other cases, this role is covered by non-governmental entities (private sector, local communities, non-profit and social enterprises). The report identifies a two-step process:

  1. Focus on the purpose of a sharing city: economic, socio-cultural development or environmental sustainability;
  2. Focus on government role(s) in a sharing city: government can act as a regulator; facilitator/enabler; integrator/implementer; collaborator.

 

6. What are the issues and challenges in the sharing economy?

Recalling the work of Agyeman and McLaren, the white paper remembers that sharing economy practices can increase multicultural interactions through 1. Revolution; 2. Subversion; 3. Reinvention. According to the two authors, the best opportunities for a systemic change come from combining reinvention and subversion to “seek interlinked opportunities to enhance well-being, increase justice and equity and spread participative democracy”.

The report identifies 6 main challenges divided into two groups:

  • Challenges in market-driven sharing:
    • Establishing trust and reputation
    • Ensuring safety and security
    • Uncertain effects of social equality
    • More exclusive than inclusive
  • Challenges in purpose-driven sharing (for social and/or environmental reasons):
    • Guiding sharing towards improving public infrastructure and services
    • Accountability and transparency in collective/collaborative governance

For each challenge, the whitepaper reports cities examples.

7. How should sharing be regulated?

Governments first have to understand the intricacies of the specific operating model and its implications – whether economic (taxes, monopolies), legal (redefining labour laws that cater to freelancers) or social (protecting the rights of participants). Cities have to work to involve all necessary levels of government: Seoul illustrates the challenge, as the city government is promoting sharing initiatives within its own scope but higher-level laws and administrative regulations have not caught up”. The whitepaper identifies some key points:

  1. Striking a balance: governments should encourage innovation and competition and protect the interest of citizens at the same time; adopting a bottom-up approach or a top-down one.
  2. Playing fair (legal): cities have to ensure healthy competition among traditional and new business models, identifying where to apply a different regulatory treatment.
  3. Defining applicable taxes and fees (legal) avoiding unclear or unfair taxation structures; cities should define a regulatory framework that incorporates the views and concerns of all stakeholders (the sharing platforms, traditional market players and participants across different sectors).
  4. Self-regulation (legal) that can decrease the pressure on regulatory bodies and allow the government to observe trends before taking corrective steps.
  5. Protecting data (social): sharing platforms collect, store, analyze a lot of valuable data of their participants (including transactional and non-transactional data) that should be protected; they are also useful for city government in the urban city planning

The challenge of regulating sharing-economy platforms is complex. Governments have to avoid deterring innovation while trying to achieve economic, social or environmental goals. It is, therefore, important for them to have flexibility in their regulatory approach”.

As Hazem Galal, PwC Global Cities and Government Leader, said: “Regulatory and tax structures need to be revisited to address these concerns as sharing platforms begin to scale across different sectors of the economy. At the same time, developing a culture of sharing within cities to improve services with accountability and transparency would go a long way in shaping the ‘sharing cities’ of the future.”

Very interesting and useful is the presence in the whitepaper of many different examples coming from cities all over the world.

  • Melbourne has become a global leader in the food-sharing sector (144 technology-mediated food-sharing initiatives). The city has a strong start-up and sharing-economy culture driven by entrepreneurial knowledge workers in co-working environments. Increasingly, this is becoming the cornerstone of the central city economy and its real-estate market. There are many enterprises that contribute to the local economy and social causes with their platforms scaling to different parts of the world (see 300 Acres, a community-sharing initiative that facilitates community access to unused city sites, enabling neighbours to establish communal gardens) and the City of Melbourne Open Data platform is a public-sector platform that releases municipal data to encourage innovation by businesses, researchers, students, programmers and data scientists.
  • Seattle has six “libraries of things” in lower- and mixed-income areas, where citizens can borrow tools. None is run directly by the government, but most have received support through grants or in-kind services to get started. The city, in addition, will invest the taxes it collects from the short-term rental market in community-led projects and paying off bonds for affordable housing.
  • New York, with the organization 596 Acres, supports residents to reclaim and manage public land for communities. New York, together with Seoul, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Toronto joint the Sharing Cities Alliance. The Alliance aims to enable cities and their citizens to shape their own future through city-to-city collaboration and its main goal is to enable city leaders continue to address the sharing economy.
  • Barcelona is driving a time-bank project where people exchange their time for doing everyday tasks (currently there are 28 time banks listed on its website). The city is also discussing the idea of the “urban commons” implementing the “Reglamento do Participacion Ciudadana”
  • London has a crowdfunding platform where citizens can propose project ideas and get City Hall’s support.
  • Seoul has started in 2012 the “Sharing City, Seoul” project, organizing a sharing promotion committee, a Sharing economy Advisory Board, a Sharing Facilitation Committee and  institutionalizing  sharing economy practices through an innovation office (Seoul Innovation Division); now it has 97 distinct sharing schemes, from public bicycles to parking spaces to children’s clothes, and it operates a website (http://yeyak.seoul.go.kr/main.web) to shared municipal spaces and civic assets. Seoul is also collaborating with other cities to provide sharing services. In November 2016, the city government and seven other local governments adopted a joint declaration on policy cooperation for the sharing city, including developing and promoting joint programmes for sharing enterprises and groups, exchanging policies, improving the legal system and strengthening cooperation with domestic and overseas cities.
  • Kamaishi City in Japan is partnering with sharing platforms to prepare for hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
  • Kigali motorbike taxi app SafeMotos uses smartphone data to distinguish safe from unsafe drivers.
  • Amsterdam opened the reflection about sharing economy thanks to the private social enterprise  ShareNL that was instrumental in launching the “Amsterdam Sharing City” initiative in early 2015. Today the city is reasoning on the “urban commons” thanks to the FabCity distributed manufacturing initiative. It is also connecting senior citizens and low-income households to sharing platforms via CityPass.
  • São Paulo has implemented road-use fees to encourage transport network companies (TNCs) to complement public transit, limiting excess supply during peak hour congestion and augmenting supply when less served.
  • Bologna has passed a resolution on collaboration between citizens and the city for the care and regeneration of urban commons and developed a “collaborative city” programme (collaboration pacts); it has paved the way for the so-called “Co-City Protocol” that explores forms of shared, collaborative and polycentric urban governance thanks to the extensive work of the co-founders of LabGov, Christian Iaone and Sheila Foster.

The whitepaper, thanks to many contributors (among which also Sheila Foster), aims to improve understanding of the sharing economy’s potential by clarifying terminology; exploring examples of what kinds of goods and services can be shared, who participates in sharing platforms and why; and discussing the challenges created by the sharing economy and how authorities can respond.  It takes stocks on the role of cities in integrating/implementing solutions for sharing of (or collaborating on) public assets and services and/or collaborating with other cities, enterprises (for-profit or not-for-profit) and other stakeholders to make the most of a city’s assets.

It can be considered a first important step in systematizing all the experiences arising in the world about sharing economy and city government, from which go even further.

 

****

Il World Economic Forum – su mandato del Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative – ha recentemente pubblicato il suo ultimo Libro Bianco: «Collaboration in Cities: From Sharing to ‘Sharing Economy’». Un documento nel quale sono messe in evidenza le potenziali opportunità ma anche le sfide e le difficoltà che la sharing economy veicola nelle e per le città; nonché una serie di approcci adottati da varie città nel mondo e possibili soluzioni.

 

The Circle City: planning for resourceful cities

The Circle City: planning for resourceful cities

From January 8 to 12, Amsterdam is going to host “The Circle City: planning for resourceful cities“, a 5-days event aimed at exploring the impact and practice of the principles of circularity in developing urban areas, housing and public space.

The 2018 edition of the Studio will be focused on trying to address and answer some of the principal question about the principle of circularity. How can cities reuse their resources to provide for housing, public spaces and urban qualities? How can planning reduce the environmental impact of urban development? What type of policies and projects can we design in make urban space more adaptive to energy, waste and water resources?

The format of the Studio combines critical scholarship, policy making and case study analysis in the context of Amsterdam Region. It is organized around 4 topics:

  • Circular flows and urban change: introduction to circularity – panel held on January 8th by Prof. Herbert Girardet;
  • Spatial fabrics of closed loops development – panel held on January 10th by Paul Jansen and Jeremy Croes;
  • Social reciprocity or sharing costs: privatisation or commoning in localities – panel held on January 11 by LabGov’s co-founder, prof Christian Iaione;
  • The politics of the circular democracy – panel held on January 12 by Prof Erik Swyngedouw.

On January 13 the Studio will host the final presentations of student projects, attending experts Marjolein Brasz and Andre Struker.

On Wednesday 10th, the Studio will open a public debate at Pakhuis de Zwijger at 19.30, looking at the political challenges of circular economic development related to urban democracy, urban regeneration and economic growth together with international discussants:

The full program of the event is available here: http://urbanstudies.uva.nl/binaries/content/assets/subsites/centre-for-urban-studies/masterstudio-2018/flyer-the-circle-city-uva.pdf?3023756958198.

Watch the livestream of the public debate here: https://dezwijger.nl/programma/all-waste-is-a-resource/

Sharing economy between Market and Human Rights

Sharing economy between Market and Human Rights

The 12th International Human Rights Researchers’ Workshop, The Sharing Economy: Markets and Human Rights, will take place on January 8 and 9, 2018 at the College of Law and Business, 26 Ben Gurion street, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv.

The Conference will deepen many issues of the Sharing economy, dealing with both competition and social concerns.  It will be articulated into many Panels, dealing with:

  • Problems and concerns of the sharing economy;
  • Public Interests and Human Rights;
  • Crowdfunding;
  • Discrimination in the sharing economy;
  • Sharing economy and Urban Environment;
  • Obligations and Competitions;

 

Professor Christian Iaione will be a keynote speaker on January 9, from 11.30 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. His speech will be about Pooling and Tech justice, proposing a Human right – based approach to the Sharing economy.

 

The complete programme is available here: http://www.clb.ac.il/uploads/8-9_1_2018.pdf


A Tel Aviv si terrà la 12th International Human Rights Researchers’ Workshop in data 8 – 9 Gennaio 2018, intitolata The Sharing Economy: Markets and Human Rights. Il Professor Christian Iaione parteciperà il 9 Gennaio con una dissertazione su Pooling and Tech justice.

Towards the transportation reform: a chance for a more integrated and sustainable urban mobility system?

Towards the transportation reform: a chance for a more integrated and sustainable urban mobility system?

 

The advent of online platforms and new technologies is breaking down traditional axes of both social interaction and commercial power, shifting the structure of traditional services[1]. The platform revolution is radically transforming an array of many sectors, like transportation, accommodations and personal services[2]. It can be considered as a pervasive innovation, which facilitates direct interactions between users and gives rise to the emergence of different needs related to data- driven trends. Services provided are often more convenient – because of the lower costs – and flexible than traditional ones.

An emblematic example falls, as well, in the field of transportation. The technical feasibility provides innovative solutions to the challenges of life, especially in crowded urban areas. Thanks to GPS-based navigation combined with real-time traffic information and mobile platforms, individuals are able to optimize their routing and schedule choices. In addiction, new methods of payment are changing the collection of user fees too[3]. Sharing economy firms, therefore, represent a reaction against the frictions of urban life exploiting such exacerbation, in order to fulfill demand for appropriate services.

Furthermore, technological progress has led the development of apps for taxi service (such as MyTaxi), but it has also allowed to flourish a non professional alternative kind of transportation as Uber, the current market leader.

As a result, these businesses interact with the traditional models, sometimes competing directly against[4], raising unfair competition concerns (as UberPop case). Italian market evolution leverages regulatory challenges due to the anachronistic legislation of non-scheduled transportation, dating from 1992. It strictly regulates only taxi and private hire vehicles, which are subject to various regulations by states and municipalities. The market has strong barriers to entry, because of the requirement of licenses as necessary condition to access and operate; moreover, local regulations too impose other limitations, as the number of taxicabs that can be registered or the place vehicles can have a ride.

Since 2015 both the Transportation Regulation Authority  and the Competition Authority has been sending signals that change is welcome, calling for a review of existing regulation, in order to remove or adapt those rules unable to correct market failures, but avoiding any qualification of new transportation services provided.

In 2015, indeed, the Transportation Regulation Authority suggested some proposal reform of the legal framework in order to include technological mobility services, even adding a new kind of transportation service, a so-called tertium genus, due to the conceptual difficulty in applying underlying rules.

Recently, the Competition Authority sent to the Parliament and the Government a report (AS1354), aimed at creating a level playing field; for this reason, the Authority suggested to:

  • encourage equivalence of taxi and other non-scheduled kinds of transportation;
  • guarantee the entry of new technological mobility services, which changed the whole mobility paradigm and made the legal framework outdate;
  • identify appropriate tools to balance the market opening for taxi discharging public service obligations.

Finally, last August 4th, 2017 the Italian Parliament approved the Annual Law upon market and competition (Legge annuale per il mercato e la concorrenza n. 124/2017). It is the result of a longer path, started in 2015, which has experienced many changes during the time. Actually, the final text, consisting of only one article but 192 paragraphs, contains a number of important corrections compared to the original version, submitted by the Government on April 3rd, 2015. The law deals with many issues, as insurance, forensics, transportation, energy. It foresees provisions aimed at removing regulatory obstacles to the opening up of markets, promoting competition and safeguarding consumers, also in accordance with the EU principles on freedom of movement, competition and market access, as well as European competition policy.

Pursuant to clauses from 179 through 182, the Government is delegated to adopt a legislative decree for the reformation of non-line public service, in order to guarantee the development of sustainable mobility and smart cities by the next year.

In this regard, the new regulation must be aligned with guiding principles and criteria listed at clause 179, in order to:

  • guarantee complementary and supplementary – to scheduled public one – transportation for all citizens;
  • adapt the provision of services to new forms of mobility using technology platforms for interconnection of passengers and drivers;
  • promote competition and stimulate higher quality standards;
  • ensure consumer protection in the enjoyment of the service, guaranteeing more consciousness for the offer choosen;
  • harmonize the regional and local authorities’ issues, defining common standards;
  • adapt the sanctioning system for administrative violations identifying effective, dissuasive and proportionate penalties according to the gravity of the violation, also in order to counteract the phenomenon of abuse, requiring the power to impose administrative sanctions on local authorities in order to avoid overlapping.

Following provisions contain procedural details of the whole rulemaking process.

Even if there is not a clear stance on the way regulatory bodies should proceed, due to physiological vagueness of delegation criteria, it could represent the first concrete reaction upon the question of how to handle new market entrants.

Neverthless, the rulemaking process could seem to be arduous. It induces to reflect upon many points, as the qualification of the legal nature of innovative transportation services, the range of regulation and consequences in terms of price fixing. It should provide an appropriate solution to the ongoing problem of striking the right balance between competing priorities, such as market access and preservation of sustainable mobility.

Consequently, many other issues – not expressly mentioned – should be addressed and taken into account, as Big Data management, collection and, above all, disclosure.

Furthermore, the diversification of transportation supply must not result in the reduction of quality, or even in the increase of pollution and road congestion[5]. In this regard, it would be necessary to reflect upon the best approach able to face the complexity of urban transport systems, in order to break in a new culture for urban mobility, comply to EU legislation too.



Il progresso tecnologico ha inciso profondamente sul settore del trasporto urbano non di linea, modificando le esigenze dell’utenza e la gestione delle risorse e mostrandone l’obsolescenza normativa. La recente legge 124/2017 rappresenta pertanto un’occasione per rivisitare l’intero sistema.

 

[1] Motala, M.,  The “Taxi-cab Problem” Revisited: Law and Ubernomics in the Sharing Economy,  33:2 Banking and Finance Law Review (2016)  at 468.

[2] Davidson, Nestor M., Infranca, John J., The Sharing Economy as an Urban Phenomenon, 34 Yale L. & Pol’y Rev. 215 (2016)

[3] Meyer G., Shaheen S., Disrupting Mobility. Impacts of Sharing Economy and Innovative Transportation on Cities, Springer (2017).

[4] Holloway C., Uber unsettled: how existing taxicab regulations fail to address transportation network companies and why local regulators should embrace Uber, Lyft, and comparable innovators, 16 Wake Forest J. Bus. & Intell. Prop. L. 20 (2015).

[5] Iaione C., The tragedy of urban roads: Saving Cities from Choking, Calling on Citizens to Combat Climate Change, 37 Fordham Urb. L.J. 889 (2009).