In a stunning blow to free enterprise, an Italian court has banned Uber from using its apps or advertising its services throughout Italy, following violent protests from the powerful taxi union.
When the Italian Parliament attempted to liberalize its licensing laws to allow greater competition for cabs, the taxi union responded by staging a week-long, often violent strike in late February. Thousands of taxi drivers from around the country descended on Rome, parking in front of the Parliament building and threatening providers of alternative ride services such as Uber.
The Parliament eventually gave in to the taxi drivers’ demands, promising swift action to roll back liberalization of its transportation laws.
Now the Italian court has ruled in favor of the taxi drivers who filed a suit against Uber, claiming it represented “unfair competition.” Uber is no longer allowed to use any of its apps — including UberBlack, Uber LUX, X, and Select — and it has been banned from promoting or advertising its services at all within the country.
For all intents and purposes, Uber has now been banned in Italy, leaving the taxi monopoly intact.
Uber will have to pay a fine of 10,000 euro and every driver 100 euros per day of delay in the fulfilment of the order after the tenth day following notification of the decision of the Court.
Adding insult to injury, the Rome court sentenced Uber to pay the costs of the legal proceedings brought by the taxi drivers.
Besides Uber itself, those who will be hurt the most from the court ruling are tourists and citizens who depend on some form of transportation service to move about. Italian taxis are notoriously overpriced and Uber had offered a glimmer of hope that free competition could actually force fares down.
Uber Italy said it was “shocked” by the ruling, promising that it intends to appeal.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome