Uber goes on offensive in Europe, files complaints against authorities

It’s fair to say there’s been more than a few bumps in the road for Uber’s European operation.

With bans imposed in Germany, France, and Spain, offices raided by armed cops in Paris, and drivers coming under attack from taxi drivers in Amsterdam and Brussels, a lesser company would’ve probably slammed on the brakes by now. But not Uber.

Determined that its ride-sharing service will succeed in Europe, the San Francisco-based company has in recent weeks filed complaints against three governments – Germany, France, and this week, Spain – claiming that each one has broken European Union (EU) laws by imposing bans on its service.

The company says EU policies should dictate whether its services can operate, not individual countries.

“This is supposed to be a single market,” Uber’s Mark McGann told the Wall Street Journal this week, adding, “What we’re finding is that we’re getting treated in completely different ways in different countries, and even within individual countries.”

Uber is currently operating freely in a number of EU nations, including the UK, a situation that demonstrates a lack of consistency, as far as Uber’s concerned.

The company’s car-based service has caused consternation among traditional taxi firms across Europe, with many insisting its drivers should be banned from operating as they lack proper licensing and function outside regulations imposed on regular taxi firms.

Jakub Adamowicz, a spokesperson for the European Commission, which deals with Europe-wide regulation, confirmed to Sky News that it’d received Uber’s complaints and was “carefully assessing” them.

Adamowicz said its decision rests on whether the commission can be convinced of Uber’s claim that it’s more a mobile app firm than a transport company.

The Commission has more power to act if it considers the service as more of an e-commerce enterprise than a transportation effort. If it’s the latter, each national government has the power to decide its own policy.

“Uber is a technology, but it is a technology that has an impact on transportation,” Adamowicz told Sky News.

If the Commission finds that EU rules have indeed been broken, we could see a situation where the governments involved are hit with various penalties.

Europe is, of course, a massive and vital market for Uber, and it’ll be desperate to win its fight to continue running its service across the whole of the EU. A ruling in response to Uber’s recently filed complaints is expected in the coming weeks.


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