Despite Denmark Setback And Looming EU Court Ruling, Uber Eyes EU Expansion

Despite withdrawing its ride-hailing service from Denmark and facing the possibility of an EU court ruling that could mean tougher rules for the firm, and Uber executive reportedly told the media that Uber Technologies sees opportunities to expand in the Europe Union.

Before imposing other requirements that meant Uber could no longer operate there and before enforcement of a new law making taxi meters mandatory for drivers, Danes hailed their last rides on the UberPOP app on Tuesday. It has already quit Hungary and Bulgaria.

“I am … rather excited about some of the momentum and support I see across the EU, despite the Danish setback,” Uber’s head of operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa, Pierre Dimitri Gore-Coty reportedly told Reuters.

Uber said that five times more people than two years ago hailed rides in the 21 EU states where Uber operates in the past three months where the number was more than 7.5 million people. It had more than 120,000 active drivers in the region, the firm said.

“Of course, there is more to do” to expand operations in the region, Gore-Coty said in a telephone interview from Amsterdam.

Uber’s revenues were $2.9 billion but losses were $991 million in the period for the final quarter of 2016.

Local taxi firms, unions and lawmakers have often complained about unfair competition and saying Uber did not meet standards required for established taxi firms, the company has often faced challenges from them even as Uber has expanded across the world, from Chile to China.

Gore-Coty dismissed such criticism. “In every country we operate, we already operate within the transport regulation law that exists today,” he said about Uber’s operations in the EU.

Barcelona’s main taxi operator, in 2014, accused the company of running an illegal taxi service via UberPOP, and the European Court of Justice, is due to rule on a dispute between Uber and Barcelona’s main taxi operator and the EU’s top court’s ruling is looming later this year.

Uber could be labelled a digital service or a transport company by the ruling. in the countries where Uber still operates peer-to-peer services such as UberPOP, it could constrain Uber by subjecting it to stricter rules on licensing, insurance and safety if it is the latter.

Uber says it is not a transport service but it is a digital platform that connects willing drivers with customers.

Allowing independent drivers to work when they want, supporters of the app say it provides a more flexible work schedule. However, some drivers want Uber to offer them any associated benefits after the company recognizes them as employees.

Its international headquarters in Amsterdam would move to a larger building to accommodate an increase in staff to 1,000 from 400 to deal with its worldwide expansion, Uber said in March.

“We are very happy with how our business develops across the EU, but also … all across the world,” Gore-Coty said, adding he also saw promising prospects for a food delivery service called UberEATS

(Adapted from CNBC)

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