Uber App Banned in Brussels, Drivers Take to the Streets

The Brussels Court of Appeals has ruled that drivers can no longer work with the Uber app. Today, about 2,000 professional drivers drive around Brussels who work with the Uber app. They have a VVB license: a license to rent out a vehicle with a driver.

 

The court has now ruled that a 2015 strike order against UberPop (then still working with private drivers) now also applies to professional Uber drivers. As a result, they may keep their license but no longer work with the app.

In concrete terms, they will no longer be able to use the app from 6 p.m. Friday, making the app virtually unusable in the capital. The ruling comes because the existing taxi law in Brussels dates from 1995, so before the arrival of the smartphone.

For the taxi federation National Grouping of Taxi Companies, the ruling finally brings a denouement. ‘It is now clear to everyone: Uber has always had to operate with drivers under a taxi permit. However, earlier this year, it was ruled on appeal that the VVB regulations, under which Uber drivers have been driving since 2017, were also largely not complied with.’

The Brussels taxi companies are now eyeing the Uber drivers. ‘Since 2019, the taxi companies have lost many drivers due to the corona crisis and are therefore faced with a shortage of many new drivers. Therefore, they are willing to hire Uber drivers in the short term with an employment contract, a decent wage and advantageous social security. That way, Uber’s customers are not left out in the cold,” according to the National Group of Taxi Companies.

According to Laurent Slits, head of Uber in Belgium, the consequences are ‘dramatic’ for the drivers: ‘They will lose their income from Friday, a few weeks from Christmas.’ Uber points an accusing finger at the Brussels government, which has failed to reform the legislation for years. Several Uber drivers have also reacted incensed to the decision. Several hundred of them disrupted traffic on the Brussels ring road by driving their car at a walking pace.

The demonstrators are calling on the Brussels government to urgently work on new legislation because the court’s decision is based on a decision from 1995. ‘We will block Brussels every day until we get an answer from the cabinet of Minister Vervoort (minister President of the Brussels-Capital Region, ed.)’, says Fernando Redondo, President of the Association of Belgian Limousine Drivers (ACBL).

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