Yesterday, Wednesday 27 February, the controversial Flemish taxi law decree was supposed to be voted in the Flemish Parliament. However, an amendment by opposition parties sp.a and Groen for the introduction of minimum rates was – completely against expectations – unanimously approved. The majority parties noticed their voting mistake too late, so they had to request a second reading and the taxi law decree could not be voted. The further treatment and voting of the decree will thus continue until well after the spring break.
Flemish Minister for Mobility Ben Weyts wants to thoroughly reform the Flemish taxi landscape. The new taxi decree will delete the existing fixed taxi rates by 2020 at the latest. Operators will be able to choose their own fare levels in the future.
The quotum of 1 taxi per 1,000 inhabitants also disappears, just like the restriction of the taxi service to limit itself to the territory of its municipality. This way the Flemish government hopes to make taxis cheaper. Furthermore, the new decree must regulate the arrival of new concepts and platforms such as Uber. As in many other European countries now in the process of changing their taxi regulation, this revision of taxi legislation was very much in line with Uber’s incessant lobbying.
Not everyone is equally pleased with the planned reform. For example, at 07.00 one morning a large number of Flemish taxis sector protested in rural Dworp, the home of Minister Weyts, “so that the minister can feel what deregulation and an oversupply of taxis mean – even in a small village.”
The taxi sector fears, among other things, that Flemish small and medium-sized businesses in the taxi sector will no longer be able to compete with sharing platforms such as Uber due to the ‘extreme deregulation’. In order to avoid unfair competition and social dumping, the sector advocates the introduction of minimum rates and minimum wages. A delegation of some twenty people from the taxi sector came to the Flemish Parliament on Wednesday. They brought along a funeral wreath with the inscription: “What good does the use of candle and spectacles do, when the owl does not see or wants to read.”
- The Flemish taxi trade fears the demise of taxi companies with employee drivers and unfettered competition from Uber & Co.