The Brussels government agreed Thursday on a proposal to reform the region’s taxi and private car industry, just a day after a judge ordered Uber to halt its Brussels operations almost entirely.
Brussels authorities also said they would “actively look for a temporary solution” for Uber, as the new taxi reform still needs to clear hurdles including a check by Belgium’s data protection authority and the highest administrative court.
Uber, however, attracted blame from Brussels minister-president Rudi Vervoort, for being effectively banned as of Friday evening. “Uber is solely responsible for the development of this sector, while there was a legal risk that it would be outlawed,” he said. The company had “misled” close to 1,200 private car drivers, he added.
Vervoort himself came under fire on Thursday following the ruling. Angry drivers blocked major streets, and a petition for reform amassed more than 12,000 signatures in half a day.
The Brussels Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday that a cease and desist order from 2015 not only applied to the ride-hailing company’s UberPop formula — which sees non-professional drivers carry passengers — but also to its current formula of professional drivers with a license.
Uber has said this would effectively bring its operations in Brussels to a halt, as only a hundred drivers with a Flemish license will still be able to operate as of Friday in Brussels.
The feud between Uber and the Brussels government has been running for a while now, especially since Brussels authorities reminded drivers in the spring that they cannot accept rides through their smartphone on the basis of a 1995 law. Uber paused its app for a few hours in September in protest at slow reform.
Uber said in an initial response that the government’s plans were an “important first step.”
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