Angry taxi drivers across Europe have halted traffic in Brussels in protest at ride-sharing platform Uber.
The rally follows the Uber Files survey in July, which documented how Uber skirted regulations and wooed lawmakers, including French President Emmanuel Macron, as it expanded its business. Disappointed with their own governments, protesters said they wanted the EU to intervene.
Hundreds of drivers waving Spanish, Swiss and Italian flags crossed Rue Belliard in Brussels on their way to the Schuman roundabout, in front of the European Commission’s Berlaymont building, where they placed headstones saying EU ” to act now or not to cry later.”
“It shows how fed up we are,” said Hatem, a taxi driver from Geneva, Switzerland.
He argued that Uber didn’t want to operate legally, but “authorities turned a blind eye for years.” Other companies would have been arrested, “but not Uber. It’s above any law,” he said. “Across Europe, taxis are suffering with the complicity of European states,” Hatem added.
Abdel, who came from Paris to join the protest, said the hope is that the EU “looks after us and pays attention to all these governments, all these statesmen… who are giving fire green to Uber”.
At EU level, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament are investigating a Commission decision proposal on platform work that could reclassify up to 4.1 million workers, including Uber drivers, as employees rather than independent contractors.
Abdel argued that drivers who work for Uber are addicted to the ride-hailing platform “because overnight they could withdraw their membership from the platform, and overnight they could be out of a job because they are independent.
He complained that French taxi drivers had paid up to €250,000 for a license to operate, but their price had dropped after Uber came along, costing drivers a lot of money .
In an emailed statement, an Uber spokesperson said, “We have moved from an era of confrontation to an era of collaboration, demonstrating a willingness to come to the table and find common ground. agreement with former opponents, including unions and taxi companies”.
The spokesperson argued that Uber is “now regulated in more than 10,000 cities around the world, working at all levels of government to improve the lives of those who use our platform and the cities we serve.”