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After London, Uber’s war with Europe is poised to heat up

After London, Uber’s war with Europe is poised to heat up
[Photo: Erika Wittlieb/Pixabay]

Europe is pushing back against Uber. On Friday, London decided not to renew Uber’s license to operate in the city, accusing the company of a “lack of corporate responsibility.” The decision was made in part because of Uber’s use of software to evade regulators. The city also says Uber failed to meet safety standards.

But London is not the first European city to take a stand against the rogue taxi operator. Earlier this year, Uber left Denmark after the country tightened laws for taxi operators, requiring companies like Uber to put fare meters in cars. Italy too has blocked the ride-hailing app and prevented the company from advertising, citing unfair competition. Since 2015, Uber has only been available limitedly in Berlin and Munich after being forced out of other large German cities like Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Hamburg.

Uber’s next battle is likely to be with France, where the company is enmeshed in legal proceedings over whether or not it ran an illegal taxi service. UberPop, which connected riders with cheap rides from unlicensed drivers, was discontinued in 2015. Uber contends that it’s an “information society service,” not a transportation company, and thus not subject to the same laws as taxi companies. But an advocate general to European Union’s Court of Justice disagrees. In a non-binding May opinion, he said Uber goes beyond providing independent drivers with information on where to find fares–it controls the economic mechanism. That makes Uber a transportation service, he says, meaning it should abide by all the local rules and licensing processes other European cab companies do. If the court agrees in its ruling later this year, Uber (and its new CEO) will find itself in a tough position.

What this all boils down to is a long road ahead for Uber in Europe, where regulators appear less and less willing to accommodate the interloper.RR