European Commission VP Neelie Kroes has hit out against a court ruling today that banned Uber’s ride-sharing app from being used in Belgium.
The ruling means that Uber will be fined €10,000 for each violation.
San Francisco-headquartered Uber launched its ride-sharing service UberPop in Brussels in February, allowing users to book a journey from their smartphone for a fare of €0.35 per minute and €0.80 per kilometre, with a minimum fare of €4 - a fraction of the price of standard taxi fares in the city.
Responding to the ruling, Kroes said she was “outraged” by the decision, adding that it was designed to protect a “taxi cartel”, rather than the best interests of passengers in the region.
Brussels' Minister of Public Works and Transport, Brigitte Grouwels, and a number of Brussels taxi companies accused Uber of violating taxi regulations, according to a report by local newspaper De Tijd.
“How is this going to work?” Kroes asked. “Are the police now going to spy on our phones to see when we are making Uber booking? Are we going to bankrupt people and send them to jail for trying to support their families with income as a driver? As if the police in Brussels don’t have anything better to do.”
“Slamming the door in Uber’s face doesn’t solve anything,” she added.
“It sends a bad anti-tech message about Brussels, which is already in the 4G dark ages. People in Brussels are modern and open, they should have a chance to use modern and open services!”
Uber is rolling out its UberPop services in several European cities, including Paris, Berlin and Barcelona. Uber has experienced resistance from traditional taxi drivers in Paris and in other cities.