/Uber’s bumpy EU ride

Uber’s bumpy EU ride

American private taxi firm Uber has had a relationship of ups and downs with EU member states within the last 12 months, with London recently following Denmark as another area no longer making use of the company’s services. The Netherlands, however, are staying put.

On Friday 22 September, it was announced that Transport for London (TFL) were to cease renewal of Uber’s license in advance of its termination on 1 October. TFL declared that the firm was “not fit and proper” to operate in the British capital.

This was not implemented without backlash. On petition creating website Change.org, over 800,000 people have signed the fastest growing UK-based petition of 2017.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has since condemned the decision of Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to back the ban, accusing him of making approximately 40,000 people unemployed “at a stroke of a pen.”

This spelled another dent in Uber’s ambitions within the European market within the last year, with the company’s Denmark branch being forced to close as a result of taximeters being made compulsory in the country from March, a notion that was called for and backed by competing taxi firms.

More recently, it became subject to scrutiny in France back in July, with the European Union Court of Justice giving French courts permission to charge Uber with running an illegal taxi service in the country.

Over in the Netherlands, however, the company is being much better accommodated in comparison.

According to spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, Karim Mostafi, the Dutch laws were changed on 1 January 2016 to make it “easier for taxi startups like Uber to enter the Dutch market.”

“For example, it’s no longer obligatory to use a taximeter and to be able to print receipts if this information is transferred to the passenger digitally.”

This contrasts with Denmark’s decision to make the use of taximeters compulsory for all taxi drivers.

On the other hand, the branch UberPOP, a service provided by Uber through drivers without taxi licenses, “was blocked back in 2014 because they were offering illegal taxi services, making use of drivers without a permit,” said Mostafi.

“In total, our enforcement agency fined Uber €1,100,000,” he said.

“By now, over 70 Uber drivers were fined for driving taxis illegally without a permit.”

Uber’s Netherlands site now helps to enforce this by stating that prospective drivers need a permit, as well as a chauffeur’s license, before signing up.

Currently the Netherlands has UberX, UberBlack, and Uber Van.

“Those currently are the only Uber services permitted,” according to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment spokesman.

UberX offers sedans that accommodate up to four people, while UberBlack offers a pricier, more luxurious service and Uber Van offers a service for up to six.

As for other taxi companies in the Netherlands, enforcement agencies carry out permit checks on taxis at airports across the Netherlands.

“Local taxi firms can do whatever they want as long as drivers obey to our local taxi laws, one of which is that a driver needs a taxi permit,” Mr Mostafi stated.

It remains to be seen as to where Uber’s journey in Europe will go from here, given the differences in regulation of taxi services between EU member states.

However, as of now, Uber operates in 23 of 28 EU member states (including the UK), so if there is to be an Adieuber in the future, it won’t be for a long time yet.

Picture: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images