Uber has come upon a stumbling block in Germany, after the Berlin government issued a prohibition order that seeks to ban both its premium UberBLACK service and ridesharing UberPOP offering in the city.
Berlin authorities say that Uber’s services pose a threat to passenger safety with the use of “non-approved drivers in unlicensed vehicles,” and that it is also seeking to protect the taxi trade. Uber faces a €25,000 ($33,400) penalty for each violation of the ban, while drivers are looking at a €20,000 fine.
According to the Financial Times, the order hasn’t kicked in yet, and Uber said that “if” the prohibition order goes through, it will restrict people’s access to transportation options. The company said that it will formally challenge the decision — and is confident that “Berlin will follow the Hamburg authorities’ lead and overturn the prohibition order.”
In a statement sent to TNW, Uber called the prohibition order a “regressive step,” and said that it “seeks to restrict freedom and limit mobility in Berlin and beyond.” Uber’s Germany general manager, Fabien Nestmann, said:
The decision from the Berlin authorities is not progressive and it’s seeking to limit consumer choice for all the wrong reasons. As a new entrant we’re bringing much-needed competition to a market that hasn’t changed in years. Competition is good for everyone because it raises the bar and ultimately it’s the consumer who wins.
Uber hasn’t been having an easy time in Europe. UberPOP was banned in Belgium in April after making a short-lived debut for a few months. In June, licensed taxi drivers in major European cities including London, Paris, Barcelona and Berlin held major protests, angered at Uber’s apparent threat to their livelihood and claiming that the app is unregulated. Eventually, European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes had to wade in the battle between Uber and traditional taxi drivers with a call for “real dialogue” about the impact of new technology.
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