Uber files complaint with the EU against Hungary

By bne IntelliNews August 10, 2016

US-based ride sharing service Uber has filed a complaint with the European Commission against Hungary, media reported on August 10.

The move comes one month after a bill came into force in the country that banned Uber’s operations in Hungary. The company hopes to find support in Brussels, which has not only regularly pushed Budapest back in policies viewed as discriminatory against foreign investors, but recently extolled states to work with business disrupters such as the modern taxi service, and avoid banning them.

Uber had been operating in Hungary since 2014 November, and claimed that it had 1,200 drivers and about 150,000 users in the country. However, taxi drivers spent the early months of 2016 paralysing Budapest on a regular basis, a tactic that brought the Hungarian government down firmly on their side. The ministry of national development repeatedly claimed that Uber ignores rules that apply to traditional taxi drivers, and that the ministry is committed to stepping up against illegal services.

While Uber appeared to be seeking to open up more routes for compromise, fears of growing protests prompted the ruling Fidesz party to push through a bill aimed at forcing Uber from the road.  Lobbyists employed by the US company claim to bne IntelliNews however, that Uber refused offers to talk to Budapest as it entered Hungary.

Uber suspended its activities in the country as of July 24 for an indefinite period”. Now it seems to be planning a return.

"We want to bring back a service that has been embraced by so many people," Rob Khazzam, Uber's general manager for Central Europe, told The Associated Press. "We want to ensure that people in Hungary have access to a service that is available in almost all other European Union countries."

Uber claims the Hungarian government’s actions oppose the policies of the European Commission. The commission made clear in early June that it does not approve of bans for the ride-sharing service.

Issuing guidance entitled "A European agenda for the collaborative economy" the EU executive said it aims "to support consumers, businesses and public authorities to engage confidently" in the sharing economy. 

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