Uber Trying to Make Amends in Europe; Promises Jobs

By Leigha Wentz,
International Business Writer

Travis Kalanick, chief executive of Uber, spoke at a technology conference in Munich on Sunday, January 18, calling for help from the politicians of the European Union in confirming the legality of Uber’s European presence in exchange for jobs.

As reported by the New York Times, Mr. Kalanick told those assembled at the conference that Uber, an app-based transportation network, could create 50,000 jobs in European cities, a message that comes after the four-year-old, San Francisco-based company has drawn sharp criticisms from cities across the world for several controversies.

Uber, which currently operates in over 250 cities worldwide, was banned in multiple European cities and faces court injunctions in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, in addition to protests from taxi firms in major cities such as London, according to the BBC. The company also faces a lawsuit from a woman in India who claims to have been raped by an Uber taxi driver.

While past criticisms launched against Uber have been met with confrontational responses from the company, Mr. Kalanick emphasized the company’s commitment to establishing new partnerships with European cities while also acknowledging the need for better rules and safety checks for drivers.

“We want to make 2015 the year when we create new partnerships with European cities,” Mr. Kalanick stated, as quoted by the Times. Mr. Kalanick went on to state that Uber is in the process of developing technology that would boost safety, implement background checks, and “improve communication with local officials and law enforcement,” the BBC reports.

According to the New York Times, Mr. Kalanick also used his speech in Munich to criticize rulings in Spain, Germany and the Netherlands claiming that Uber’s growth created unfair competition for tax drivers. Mr. Kalanick dismissed such claims, going on to state that current transportation rules existed in order to protect taxi associations, leading to the creation of virtual transportation monopolies in some cities.

“Why do these rules exist?” Mr. Kalanick said. “They exist because the taxi industry is trying to protect itself through regulatory capture.”

Competition and technological advances brought about by Uber could benefit the governments and local economies of those involved, according to the company. As quoted by CNN Money, a post on the company’s blog stated that “…Uber can share smart data with partner cities to help them manage growth, reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions and expand public transportation.” Mr. Kalanick expressed similar views, claiming that Uber’s expansion would lead to a reduction in the numbers of cars on European roads, while adding jobs and increasing tax revenues.

“Uber wants to partner closely with tax authorities to increase transportation providers’ compliance and overall tax revenue for cities and countries across Europe,” he claimed.

While Mr. Kalanick’s speech was aimed at improving relations with European policy makers, several politicians are expected to continue expressing their concerns over Uber’s expansion in Europe. Germany in particular remains cautious, while tax drivers spanning from Madrid to Milan continue to voice their objections following last year’s protests.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 27th print edition.

Contact Leigha at
leigha.wentz@.student.shu.edu

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