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UberPop in Brussels to close on Wednesday evening
Amateur taxi app UberPop will stop operating in Brussels on Wednesday evening, after a court ruled that it was breaking the law by putting unlicensed drivers in contact with paying clients.
Uber had until next Tuesday, 19 October, to comply with the ban or face a fine of €10,000 each time a driver is caught by police.
In an email to customers this morning, Uber said: "You heard the news: a judge ordered us to stop UberPop in Brussels and this will happen on Wednesday 14 October at 11:59PM.
"Although this was inevitable following a recent court order, stopping UberPop is very disappointing and impacts you and tens of thousands of people in Brussels who rely on Uber’s affordable services. It also hurts hundreds of Bruxellois counting on Uber to support their families."
Brussels commercial court last month upheld an earlier ruling against UberPop, brought by local taxi firm Les Taxis Verts. A petition to Minister-President Rudi Vervoort against the ban had since gathered more than 25,000 signatures.
The UberX service, which launched recently in Brussels using professionally licensed drivers, will continue operating.
Uber said: "We believe the way forward is to focus on further growing our professional service UberX. But as you know UberX only launched fairly recently and we are working hard to make it as efficient and reliable as UberPop was, allowing you to seamlessly move around Brussels in a safe and pleasant way."
The company has today sent an open letter to Vervoort "since there has not been any progress on the reforms that are urgently needed".
Uber Belgium general manager Filip Nuytemans wrote: "Today’s taxi and private hire legislation is holding progress back. Thousands more people could get a job by introducing fairly straightforward reforms, like lowering excessive educational requirements barriers to become self-employed and scrapping requirements for a licensed driver’s car to cost at least €37,671. Good service does not depend on whether the car is an S-class Mercedes; or on an understanding of advanced accounting.
"A 20-year-old decree is keeping prices high by preventing competition and blocking consumer choice. Brussels has become the only major European capital that still does not have a thriving taxi and private hire sector. Amsterdam, Paris, London, are just examples of where professional services like UberX are flourishing: people have better and more affordable transportation, it is creating thousands of jobs and it is encouraging people to leave their car at home."