Uber: who will win battle over taxi services?
The US transportation network company Uber is facing increasing resistance as it expands in Eastern Europe. In the Czech Republic a court in Brno has banned its services, the government in Poland wants to impose restrictions on the company, and in Estonia the parliament is working out corresponding changes to its legislation. Commentators take a critical view of such attempts at regulation.
Polish government giving in to blackmail again
According to a report in Rzeczpospolita the Polish government is drafting a law that stipulates that all taxi drivers must have an official licence. The paper's editor-in-chief Bogusław Chrabota sees this as wrong:
“This would of course spell the end for Uber drivers. I, personally, can't see any economic point to the measure. This is a typical project directed solely against consumers. It came about as a result of pressure from a small group. Someone caved in, was intimidated or got cold feet. More than a hundred thousand of the service's workers will now lose out. All of us will lose out - except the taxi drivers and public transport. … What kind of government lets itself be blackmailed like this? First the miners did it, then the chemists, and now it's the taxi drivers. Doesn't the public interest count for anything?”
Progress is unstoppable
The Estonian parliament is considering adding new regulations to its transport laws that would apply to service providers such as Uber. But economic development can't be stopped, Eesti Ekspress observes:
“The Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries did away with countless jobs. All of a sudden the work of weavers and blacksmiths was worthless. ... Do we want to turn back the clock? In today's world Uber is doing the same thing with taxi companies. Unlike them, Uber doesn't need dispatchers, human resources personnel, accountants, people to distribute licences or certificates or any other modern apparatchiks. It doesn't even need bosses or employees. Uber creates a platform where consumers and service providers can meet directly. Essentially it's the same as a medieval marketplace, except that there are no physical borders. Despite all the resistance, the writing is on the wall: the forces of conservatism will lose. It's pointless to stand in the way of progress.”