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Uber’s rough ride in the Nordic countries continues. In April, legislative changes forced the company out of Denmark and today it has announced a year-long suspension in Finland.
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Uber’s primary service, UberPop, will come to a halt on 15 August, with plans to reinstate the service once Finland’s taxi industry reform comes into force in July 2018. The new legislation is aimed at easing market entry and creating new transport services.
Joel Järvinen, Uber’s country manager for Finland, said the main reason for the decision was avoiding problems for its drivers. The Finnish police have clamped down on Uber drivers for providing unlicensed taxi services, and last week the Helsinki district court ordered almost €250,000 worth of Järvinen’s assets to be confiscated until an investigation is concluded into whether Uber operates an illegal taxi service in Finland.
“We want to ensure that the drivers who use our app and our employees are not exposed to any unnecessary issues – especially now that we have a bright future to look forward to,” said Järvinen in a blog post on 6 July. “We believe that the best way to ensure this and focus on the future is to pause UberPop and relaunch in the summer of 2018.
“At the moment we only operate in the Helsinki capital region, but when the new law comes into force, we can also consider all other alternatives.”
The country’s new Transport Act will still require drivers to hold a taxi licence, but it puts no limit on the number of licences issued and abolishes fare regulations.
Uber, which has operated in Helsinki since late 2014, said the move will not affect its Finnish employees (drivers are not technically employees in the country) and it will continue its licensed premium service UberBlack in the nation’s capital.
Järvinen said the company is committed to supporting its hundreds of drivers in Finland throughout the suspension period and will announce further details on these measures in the coming months.
Uber, valued at $70bn, has faced heated reactions in many countries, with taxi drivers and regulators accusing the company of distorting competition and not adhering to local taxi regulations. UberPop has already been cancelled in several European cities, including Brussels and Paris. Legislative issues have reportedly made the company consider pulling out from Norway, too.