Catalonia to fine drivers using Uber taxi app

George Mills
George Mills - [email protected]
Catalonia to fine drivers using Uber taxi app
A Barcelona taxi outside the Sagrada Familia Basilica: Photo: AFP

Spain's Catalonia region on Tuesday announced plans to fine drivers who use the taxi app Uber as much as €6,000 ($8,000), but the company told The Local they believe there is space for everyone to operate together.


Drivers could also see their vehicles impounded and they would have to immediately stop using Uber, Catalonia's Territory and Sustainability Department said in a statement.

The fines would not affect passengers using Uber to order these 'illegal' taxi services, the department told The Local by phone.

The department also confirmed only taxi drivers with official authorization could operate such 'taxi' services in the region.        

In response, Uber stressed that they wanted "open dialogue" with the Catalan government.

"We comply with all applicable tax laws in each of the markets we operate in," the company told The Local.

"We’re a tech company – but the laws governing our vehicles were drafted way before smart phones, apps and 3G were invented.

"Uber is a legal service that is totally above board and that’s why we want to maintain an open dialogue attitude towards the Generalitat in Catalonia," a spokesperson for the app company said.

"We believe that there’s room for everyone, and we’re improving transport options for both riders and drivers alike."

The Catalan government's move to fine drivers using Uber comes a day after Spain's public works and transport ministry backed down on plans to slap Uber users with fines of up to €600 ($800) after the European Commission labelled the move as extreme.

A spokesperson for the public works and transport ministry said, however, they would still target drivers using the Uber service to make a profit.

It is not yet clear how this will work in practice.

Taxi drivers around Spain want tough action against the increasingly popular app, saying it creates unfair competition. Taxi strikes are planned in Madrid and Barcelona on Wednesday. 

Other strikes are planned in France, Germany and London. 

Vice President of the European Commission Nellie Kroes has responded to the strikes by saying that technology is not the problem, and that a solution needs to be found.


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