Hollande calls UberPop illegal amid taxi tensions

France says Uber does not respect the country's social and fiscal rules.

Michel Euler/AP
Police officers stand next to a burned out car during the demonstration by taxi drivers in Paris, France, on Thursday, June 25, 2015.

A day after taxi drivers in France protested against Uber, French president François Hollande said he wants UberPop service shut down.

"The UberPop group must be dissolved and declared illegal, and the vehicles must be seized,” said Mr. Hollande on Friday at a European Union summit in Brussels, The Associated Press reported. Hollande added that this decision needs a court approval.

On Thursday, irate taxi drivers took to the streets in France to demonstrate against the online car ride service, smashing cars, setting tires on fire, and blocking roads.

During the protests, ten people were arrested, seven police officers were injured and 70 vehicles were damaged, Al Jazeera reported.

Hollande condemned the violent protests on Friday calling it “an unacceptable violence in a democracy.”

French taxi drivers say the low-cost Uber service is ruining their prospects for fares.

But the government’s frustration is on another level. Authorities are not happy that Uber does not pay the same taxes and license fees as traditional taxis do.

Uber explains it should not be evaluated as taxis since it merely connects drivers with clients.

UberPop is a service that allows anyone to sign up as a driver without a professional chauffeur license. The service connects drivers with passengers via a smartphone app and lets users split the fare with multiple other riders.

The service was launched in France in early 2014 and by January was ruled illegal by the government, but the decision will not have a full force of law until the court rules on the service.

In March, a Paris appeals court delayed a decision on whether to ban UberPop service until the country’s highest appeals court, and possibly its constitutional court, make rulings.

France is not the first country going against UberPop. Courts in Spain, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands have all ruled against it as Reuters reports.

The car-booking company, which was founded in 2009, has expanded to almost 300 cities in 54 countries.

But this was not an easy ride. The $41 billion business has faced regulatory hurdles and experienced protests worldwide.

On Thursday, the French government ordered police to issue a decree forbidding activity by UberPop drivers in Paris.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Thursday that operating UberPop vehicles will "be systematically seized" by police. On Friday, he added that Uber is facing multiple investigations.

Uber says it is "still assessing on which legal ground" the French government is planning to stop UberPop activities.

The San Francisco-based company insists that it will not stop the service until a country’s court gives a ruling.

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