Stiff fines for any cabbies who use it to pick up fares
A Belgium court has delivered another blow to the smartphone taxi app Uber, ruling that any cab drivers using it to pick passengers could face a €10,000 (£8,260) fine each time. At the heart of the row is how the app, backed by Google and Goldman Sachs, links up customers with private cabs whose owners may not comply with the strict licensing rules that exist in many EU countries. Regulated taxi unions in France and Italy have already bitterly opposed moves to open up the cab business to more competition, launching a series of mass protests to paralyse local traffic.
Now a court in Brussels has added its backing to the protests, ruling that any cab driver in the EU capital using Uber to pick up passengers could face draconian fines.
Ironically, European Commissioner Neelie Kroes has hit out at the decision, arguing it hurts consumers and innovators.
“This decision is not about protecting or helping passengers. It’s about protecting a taxi cartel,” she wrote.
“It sends a bad anti-tech message about Brussels.”
But a spokesperson for Brigitte Grouwels, Brussels’ transport minister, defended the court’s decision.
“They [Uber] do not comply with existing rules; they are not registered; their drivers don’t have a regular licence; and do not follow the rules that conventional taxis have to follow – that’s why the court blocked them.”
Details of the London version of the app (for iPhone and Android) can be found here.