International taxi demonstration causes heavy traffic in Brussels

International taxi demonstration causes heavy traffic in Brussels
Taxis block the road during a protest of European taxi drivers against taxi-app Uber, in Brussels. BELGA PHOTO THIERRY ROGE

Traffic in Brussels is expected to be heavily disrupted on Thursday, as the taxi sector will take part in an international taxi demonstration in response to the UberFiles. The taxi drivers demand a political response to the Uber revelations.

A procession of cars will drive from the North Station to the European Quarter around noon, which the Brussels police expect to cause heavy disruptions from the morning onward.

Participants will be coming from various European countries and meet near the Brussels North Station in the morning, from where the procession is scheduled to leave at 11:30.

It will proceed along Boulevard du Jardin Botanique, Boulevard du Régent, before turning onto Rue Belliard. The final destination will be the Schuman roundabout.

Teleworking encouraged

The police Brussels-Capital Ixelles advises teleworking as much as possible and leaving the car at home. If you do have to drive to the capital, it is best to avoid this area and the small Brussels ring.

The Belliard, Tervuren and Cinquantenaire tunnels will be closed in the direction of the Rue de la Loi. The Brussels police provide the most up-to-date traffic information via Twitter.

UberFiles

The international taxi demonstration is largely within the context of the UberFiles. In early July, a data breach exposed more than 124,000 internal documents, containing memos, calendars, WhatsApp messages and other data files from the period from 2013 to 2017.

The European taxi associations are demanding that investigations be launched against Uber, both at the European and national levels. They want strong measures to be taken and possibly sanctions.

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The leaked documents show that Uber approached and maintained contact with several top politicians. Among them was current French President Emmanuel Macron, who had become French Minister of Economy in August 2014.

The UberFiles also reveal that former Dutch Commissioner Neelie Kroes secretly lobbied for Uber in 2015 and 2016, even after the European Commission explicitly banned her from taking a position at the company.

Dubious practices in Brussels

In Brussels, the ride-hailing taxi service used dubious practices to escape checks as much as possible and thwart investigations. It deployed private detectives against Brussels competitors and allowed mystery shoppers working for the government to infiltrate or sabotaged a house search by the court.

"These crimes can affect all levels of power, be it executive, legislative or administrative," the taxi industry said, demanding clarity about Uber and requesting a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit and European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean.


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