By Costanza Cerasi
Thousands of Spanish taxi drivers participated the protest demonstration against rental cars with Uber and Cabify. At the same time, a 24-hour strike was called across the country. The taxi drivers asked the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to enforce the proportion of 1 to 30 on licenses provided by law. Among the accusations of unfair competition aimed at online platforms are those of pricing too low and avoiding tax obligations.
Uber will have a hard time in Europe
Uber, the transport app co-founded by Travis Kalanick in San Francisco in 2009 is now active in 571 cities and 81 countries, from the United States to Tanzania. Its arrival has never been painless and has brought great controversies within the transportation department. Europe is no exception, in fact, after the protests of trade associations the app has been banned, suspended or downsized by various judgments at national level, however these regulations are still very unclear.
In Germany Uber is active in five cities: Hamburg, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich and is now “compatible with German laws”.
The app was initially banned in 2015 with a ruling by the local court of Frankfurt which provides for penalties of € 250 thousand in the event of an infringement. The reasons behind this decision were that most drivers operated without licenses and “do not have the right qualifications”, with consequent risks for consumers and unfair competition with respect to taxis.
In France Uber raised great issues since its arrival in Paris in 2014. UberPop was banned but the application is still free to operate. However, its drivers must obtain a commercial license and exercise as a full-time service. There are now five medium-high profile platforms (like UberX itself), but the dispute does not seem to have been resolved.
Spain followed the “German route” in Uber, replacing the controversial UberPop with the professional and high-profile services of UberX and UberOne. The new platform became operational in March 2016, after the veto imposed by the judges in 2014 and the company’s willingness to redefine its business model in line with Spanish legislation. For now, its services are available only in Barcelona and Madrid.
This revolutionary app has caused great discussion among Europe and has caused numerous taxi strikes that have lead cities in chaos. The definite verdict on Uber is still very confused and unclear. The app is renown to be very practical and very popular, mostly among teenagers. This situation is very controversial and will undoubtedly have further developments.