Uber given the green light in the European Union

Contrary to the harsher penalties recently implemented by the Queensland government for Uber drivers, the European Commission (EC) has published new guidance in favour of the ride share service.

As the body responsible for proposing legislation and making executive decisions for the European Union (EU), this new legislation ensures innovation keeps gaining momentum.

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska commented on the move, saying that it is imperative services such as this succeed as this will lay the ground work and foundation for the development of other start-ups.

“Absolute bans (of Uber) should be only a measure of last resort,” she told European reporters.

“Such restrictions can’t favour one business over another.”

In 2014, France banned the ride-share application in a move to protect current business models such as Taxi’s.

These new guidelines released by the EC mean European countries will be forced to now take a softer approach to innovative businesses such as Uber, despite their effects on current business models.

Senior European official for jobs and growth, Jyrki Katainen told CNN that if countries don’t adopt these rules they will be at risk of getting fined.

“If a member state is violating these rules, we are the guardians of the law and we must act,” she said.

This new legislation is therefore an enormous win for Uber who had been pursuing on-going legal battles in various countries.

Gareth Mead, a Uber Spokesperson from the EU, told Reuters that while this guidance is promising there is still a long way to go, particularly in Spain, France and Germany.

“The European Commission has made it clear that EU laws protect collaborative economy services against undue restrictions and member states should review regulations that undermine the development of such services,” he told Reuters.

Contrary to these new European guidelines, Uber still remains illegal in three Australian states.

A recent bill passed in Queensland now sees Uber drivers face fines of up to $2,356, a move that Katter’s Australian Party hopes will eventually make the ride share service redundant.

Katter’s Australian Party MP, Rob Katter has long accused Uber of damaging the taxi industry.

In an interview with the ABC, he suggested that many countries had been “soft targets” by letting the service remain despite its effects on current business models.

“That’s why they’re a $60 billion company worldwide. A lot of people have been soft targets, I hope we won’t be in Queensland,” he said.

Uber Queensland General Manager Sam Bool, told News Limited that he is shocked the Queensland government has decided to ignore the desires of voters and pass this damaging legislation.

“We are astounded that a government that claims to be pro-jobs and pro-innovation has taken such a backwards step for Queensland,” Mr Bool said.

Unlike the EU’s blanket decision to legalise the ride share application, Australia is still working on a state by state basis.

This is despite Malcolm Turnball’s comments at Sydney’s technology conference last year, where he stated how important services like this are for the economy.

“The key to our future prosperity is to be faster, leaner, more productive, more innovative and more collaborative,” he told the CeBIT Technology conference.

In a recent interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said that new business models like Uber had changed the way Australians do business and this needed to be embraced.

“Whether or not we like it – and sometimes these things can be a little bit scary – when you travel overseas, they are already embracing the future of work,” Senator Cash said.


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