Uber Tussles with European Governments and Complaints

Uber faces opposition in European countries, and files complaints against "unlawful" bans.

The Journey

Uber is has defended themselves from complaints from the governments of France, Germany, and Spain. The taxi-like company has now reversed the roles, and has placed complains against these three governments. The main reason for this is that their attempts to ban Uber’s services have violated European Union law.

Uber’s head of public policy in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, Mark McGann, states that the European should control services and not individual countries. McGann claims “What we’re finding is that we’re getting treated in completely different ways in different countries, and even within individual countries”. He also states “This is supposed to be a single market”, giving his opinion of the European Union.

In Uber’s efforts to expand their ride-hailing service,they have been involved in countless fights with countries across the world. The Uber app allows users to request a ride and connect with drivers. Uber has already set up a lasting impression in many countries by asking local governments for the right to operate.

Uber Against the World

This effective strategy from Uber has allowed them to evolve from being local to growing on an international level. Uber’s humble beginnings in San Francisco has developed into a service used across the globe since the launch in 2009. The service is now being used in 295 cities and 55 countries.

Although they have experienced immense success, Uber is still facing some opposition in European countries. 19 of 28 European Union countries currently support Uber, and the company plans to increase this number by seven by the summer of 2015.

The countries against Uber’s service are the UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The disapproval is even stronger in France, Germany and Spain. Government officials in these three countries do not approve of the way Uber allows drivers and users to interact.

“This is supposed to be a single market” – Mark McGann, Uber’s Head of Public Policy

In December, a Spanish Judge completely ended all uses of the service in Spain in December. One main reason for this was Uber drivers competing with licensed taxis, and carrying no official authorization to provide service. France also took a step in September, banning all transportation companies’ GPS system, which would give a notice to the user of cars nearby. Lastly, a three-judge panel in Germany banned their service everywhere in the country in March.

To counter these bans, Uber has filed their own complaints against Spain (on Monday), and France and Germany in the months of January and February. Uber’s objections were filed in Brussels, where the European Union headquarters is located. These protests highlighted how Uber was not a taxi service but rather a technology business.

In its complain against Spain, Uber states that they were  “clearly not a transporter but a technologically innovative software business which brings together individuals who wish to use certain transport services offered by private or professional providers,”.

A main issue that Uber faces pertains to a European Union law. Under this law, each individual country is allowed to control their own policies regarding transportation, only if they provide equal treatment to all transportation services.

“While Uber is ‘fully regulated as a licensed company’ in Britain, other countries have sought to ban some of its services” McGann said.