Final arguments were being delivered at the commercial court in Brussels on Wednesday, following injunctions sought by the Taxis Verts firm and Brussels-Capital authorities against the American company Uber. The mobility platform refutes the accusations and criticizes outdated legislation in Brussels which may contradict European regulations. “Really, the question is whether the market can cope with more than just taxis,” according to Uber.
“The statute on taxi services dates back to 1995, when apps and other new technologies had yet to be invented,” pointed out the counsel for Uber in his arguments. “The legislation is based on numerus clausus and limits the number of permits. We submit that this contradicts higher principles such as freedom of enterprise or the free movement of services within the European Union. Limiting the free movement can be done but only when it is commensurate with and justifiable by the situation. Is it the case here?”
According to Uber, the legislation offered a tool for fighting against rogue taxis. The company insists that it does not offer such taxi services, “but a real means of communication between drivers and users. Our drivers are not taxi drivers, they cannot be flagged down from a street corner. Our prices vary according to supply and demand. These aspects all differentiate us from a traditional taxi service.”
At the same time the American company asked for an end to past agreements between Taxis Verts and the dispatch service Taxis Bleus: “The 2 companies together control almost 90% of drivers in Brussels. The way they lock new enterprises out of the market with exclusive contracts and mutual agreement is contrary to the principle of free competition.”
The commercial court in Brussels will rule in the next few weeks.
Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)