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    Antwerp scraps taxi laws to encourage Uber’s arrival

    Credit: Belga

    Ride-hailing company Uber will be allowed to operate in Antwerp from now on, as the city council has scrapped the city’s existing taxi regulations.

    In Belgium, Uber mainly operates in and around Brussels. However, by deregulating taxi services in Antwerp, more competition will become possible, which should benefit mobility.

    On Tuesday, the city decided to abolish the limit on the maximum number of taxis in Antwerp, and gave taxi companies the power to set their own prices.

    The decision is a consequence of the new Flemish taxi decree, according to Antwerp alderman for Mobility Koen Kennis, which was meant to modernise taxi services in Flanders.

    Uber would be welcome to start operating in several Flemish central cities, according to Kennis. “But, and this is very important: no cowboy tricks to undercut the competition,” he told De Morgen.

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    “Antwerp is rolling out the red carpet for international platforms. They take advantage of this [measure] to set their prices so low that everyone else is pushed off the market. Then, they set a high price themselves,” Koen Van Oorschot of the professional association of Antwerp taxi companies told VRT.

    “The sector seems to be stuck in the past. Everything will probably have to become a bit more digital and flexible. Additionally, everyone will still have to comply with social legislation,” Kennis added.

    In an open letter with the mobility aldermen from Ghent and Leuven, Kennis invited Uber to help make the taxi industry emission-free by 2025.

    Only the far-left PVDA party voted against the proposal in the city council, and the Green party abstained. According to the trade unions, however, the council’s decision is “one big experiment, the side effects of which are insufficiently known today.”

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times