In a blog post posted on the European Commission’s website, Kroes writes:
“The debate about taxi apps is really a debate about the wider sharing economy. That debate forces us to think about the disruptive effects of digital technology and the need for entrepreneurs in our society. And that’s what the Taxi protests are really about,” she said.
Well, we’re outraged, too: Kroes supervises the commission’s digital agenda, but what she misses is that the taxi strikes represented an industry frustrated with the unfairness of “two-track” regulatory systems.
The International Road Transport Union (IRU) in Brussels caught word of her blog post and to clear up the confusion, General Delegate to the EU, Michael Nielsen released a statement Thursday in response:
“Taxis are an essential part of the public transport chain and regulated as such. The regulations that govern the taxi sector are created and imposed by politicians. Now a few political leaders, including Commissioner Kroes, are attacking the sector for those very regulations. This is a hypocritical and grossly unfair situation. Neelie has simply got it wrong. She would do better supporting innovation in legal, regulated taxi services.”
The IRU called Uber “taxi cowboys.” Their message to Uber is equally western: screw you and the horse you rode in on.
You can read more on the IRU’s comment below:
Brussels, 12 June 2014
Neelie’s got it wrong on Taxis
Neelie Kroes’s comments on taxi services are simply wrong. The taxi strikes in many European cities do not express resistance to innovation, but rather frustration at the double standards inflicted on the industry by political leaders that demand regulation for some and advocate zero regulation for others. Fairness must prevail.
The taxi strikes across Europe, yesterday, highlighted the frustration felt within the sector regarding cowboy taxi operators who are by-passing extensive quality and safety regulations in order to under-cut regulated taxi services. Comments by political leaders in support of cowboy services are hypocritical and ill-informed. Neelie Kroes is wrong to say this is about digital innovation. This is an issue about fairness and customer protection.
Europe’s taxi industry is one of the most progressive and innovative in the world. Europe’s taxi providers have been using innovative digital tools to provide better, more convenient customer services for some time. Apps such as taxi.eu and e-cab offer convenient professional services in excess of the offerings of unregulated, cowboy operators using systems such as Uber.
General Delegate to the EU, Michael Nielsen said, “Neelie Kroes would not want to see amateur radio operators freely using regulated European radio frequencies to set up unauthorised and unlicensed telecom networks as and when they felt like. Why should professional and licensed taxis be subjected to the same dangerous free-for-all?”
Taxi cowboys are free from checks and oversight and free to charge customers whatever they wish. There are no guarantees that vehicles are safe, insured, or accessible to disabled users, that drivers are free from criminal convictions, or that they have any knowledge about the area they operate in.
All operators must be free to compete on a level playing field and customers are entitled to high quality, safe and reliable services.
Mr Nielsen concluded, “Taxis are an essential part of the public transport chain and regulated as such. The regulations that govern the taxi sector are created and imposed by politicians. Now a few political leaders, including Commissioner Kroes, are attacking the sector for those very regulations. This is a hypocritical and grossly unfair situation. Neelie has simply got it wrong. She would do better supporting innovation in legal, regulated taxi services.”