Uber downfall splits Danish politicians

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Uber downfall splits Danish politicians
Minister for Transport Ole Birk Olesen. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix

Danish politicians both lamented and revelled in the demise of ride-sharing app Uber after it announced Tuesday that it was withdrawing its operations in the country.


Citing a new taxi law passed by the government in February, the company said at a press conference in Copenhagen that it could not “live with the legislation that’s in the field now.”

The law introduced measures such as compulsory taxi meters, seat occupancy detectors and authorisations, making operations more complicated for Uber drivers.

“The agreement means that it is necessary to buy a new car. In the new car you then need to install a lot of old-fashioned equipment… on top of that you have to shell out for authorisation,” Uber spokesperson Kristian Agerbo said at the press conference, according to news agency Ritzau.

Minister for transport Ole Birk Olesen of the Liberal Alliance party said in an official statement that it was “unfortunate” that there was not majority support for a liberalising of taxi laws that would have made Uber’s life easier.

“I believe that we should be open to new technology and innovative business models. I am therefore grateful that we at least agreed in the new liberalised Taxi Law to monitor technological developments and see whether in future there might be a parliamentary majority that supports smarter control of taxi services than there is today with the likes of taxi meters,” wrote Olesen.

The party’s spokesperson for transport Joachim B. Olsen echoed Olesen’s sentiments.

“It is hugely regrettable, both for the 200,000 users in Copenhagen that have taken to Uber and for the drivers who have gained an income from it,” said Olsen.

Olsen’s opposite number in the Conservative People’s Party, which also forms part of the coalition government, also said that the move was unfortunate for Denmark.

Rasmus Jarlov – one of Uber’s biggest supporters in parliament – admitted that the taxi law that his party helped pass was part of the reason for Uber’s departure.

“As everybody knows, the conservative government would have preferred Uber to continue. But we were forced [by opposition parties] to make a law that has forced Uber out of Denmark. The government parties regret this,” Jarlov told news agency Ritzau.

But both liberal and conservative parties said that they were glad to see the back of the shared economy service.

“It’s a happy occasion that Uber is being driven to the scrapyard – I have not shed a tear. I would just like to wish Uber a safe trip home,” said opposition Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti) MP and transport spokesperson Karsten Hønge, who also tweeted a picture with a cake celebrating the news, copying the controversial 'immigration cake' Facebook post by integration minister Inger Støjberg earlier this month.

Hønge wrote in a statement that Uber’s business model “gave unreliable condition to their employees. It will not do, and I am glad that our society is taking a stand against a company as greedy and avaricious and Uber,” reports newspaper Politiken.

Liberal Alliance leader Anders Samuelsen criticised Hønge for celebrating "more expensive personal transport," reports newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Kim Christiansen of the nationalist Danish People’s Party said that it was “quite excellent” that Uber was ceasing its operations in Copenhagen.

“It is good that Uber has realised that the concept and way they want to do business is not something we want to do in Denmark,” said Christiansen according to Politiken.

Uber driver Nicolai Jørgensen told Politiken that he had worked as a driver for the service to pay for expenses like car finance, road tax, fuel and maintenance.

“It’s expensive to run a car in Denmark,” said Jørgensen, who told the newspaper that he drove for Uber “less than ten hours per week” in addition to his day job as a consultant.

Jørgensen added that he was in February issued with a 3,500 kroner ($507) fine for driving an unauthorised taxi and that he expected that Uber would help him with his appeal.



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