The ban started with Berlin’s authorities which have recently decided to forbid the alternative taxi company Uber, which allows users to summon a ride via an app on their smartphones. The German city authorities consider that people offering this service usually do not have licenses or full insurance cover for passengers.
It is not the first time Uber has been prohibited from operating. Earlier this year, the Belgian Commercial Court prohibited the taxi app in Brussels. Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes fiercely expressed her anger about innovation being hampered by legislation.
Ecommerce Europe is a strong supporter of Commissioner Kroes’ opinion that legislation should be adapted to the Digital Revolution in the 21st century, and that governments should finally fully embrace the online channel and innovation through the Internet. You can read the blog of Wijnand Jongen, Chair of the Executive Committee of Ecommerce Europe, about this topic here.
After the restrictions in Belgium, Uber has now been prohibited from offering its services across Germany. The San Francisco-based company faces fines of up to €250,000 ($328,000) if it operates in violation of a temporary injunction imposed on Tuesday by Frankfurt Regional Court. The court granted the injunction following a challenge brought by the German taxi industry for non-compliance with German passenger transport laws.
The innovative car service Uber wanted to appeal against the decision of Berlin’s authorities, accusing the city of denying its people choice and mobility, and thus avoiding market competition in the German capital. “Competition is good for everyone and it raises the bar and ultimately it’s the consumer who wins,” declared the German General Manager at Uber, Fabien Nestmann. The nationwide ban is only the latest in a series of regulatory setbacks for Uber in Germany.
Uber considers being nothing more than a firm putting people in contact with each other, that is a marketplace and not a transportation service. The company declared that the passengers’ security is also their priority as Uber drivers have to be over a certain age, have a valid driving license and undergo background checks before they can pick up any passengers.
The EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, tweeted in support of new companies like Uber: “The digital revolution presents us with choices: will we seize new opportunities, or shut them down? Whether #Turkey, #Uber, whatever”.