Dozens of Uber drivers demonstrated in the Belgian capital on Thursday after the Brussels Court of Appeal ruled that the ridesharing app violated local law.
Under the ruling, around 2,000 drivers who use the Uber app will have to go out of business by Friday night.
“From 6 p.m. on Friday 26 November, only 5% of cars will be available for you to move around Brussels (only drivers with a Flemish taxi license),” Uber told its Brussels customers in an email.
“We are disappointed with the court’s decision and deeply concerned for the drivers, as they will lose their ability to earn via the Uber app from Friday,” the company continued.
The decision is the latest episode in a long-standing legal battle between Uber and a traditional taxi company, Taxis Verts.
In 2015, the UberPop service, which put non-professional drivers in touch with customers, was banned in Brussels. But Uber continued to run its service with licensed drivers.
The Brussels Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday that the 2015 decision actually applied to all Uber services.
The Brussels government has supported traditional taxis at a dead end. He is accused of delaying regulations that would recognize licenses for Uber drivers and other ridesharing services.
“The courts’ decision was made on the basis of outdated regulations that the government has promised to reform over the past seven years,” Uber said.
“We therefore urge the government to find a solution that allows drivers to continue working and providing for their families,” he added.
Taxis Verts said the decision proved they were right. “We weren’t telling stories, you need a taxi license to do this kind of transport,” said Taxis Verts sub-administrator Michèle Pêtre to the newspaper L’Echo.
The Brussels regional government said in a statement that it was taking note of the Brussels court’s decision and was also seeking a temporary response to the situation.
“It is Uber’s responsibility to have allowed this sector to develop with the legal risk of seeing this service banned,” Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort said in a statement.
Since launching in Europe in 2011, Uber has shaken up traditional taxis, sparking protests and feuds with local authorities.