Estonia Becomes the First European Country to Legalize and Regulate Ride-Sharing
First published on Forbes online magazine.
It would be fair to say that traditional London and Parisian taxi drivers are not particular fans of the sharing economy. There have been violent protests in both cities to protect their vocations against the disruption of Uber to their business.
In London, Black Cab drivers have to endure at least three years learning the ‘Knowledge’ an excruciating test of the city’s streets, nooks and crannies. It is no surprise they are opposed to Uber drivers ‘taking their jobs’ when Uber drivers can do so immediately without any knowledge of ‘the knowledge’.
Parisian drivers have been even more virulent in their rejection of such disruption. Earlier this year in January, more than 2,000 taxi-drivers across France, not just in Paris, led to violent protests.
This followed events in June last year when the US singer Courtney Love was caught, and clearly scared, when she tweeted ‘Got chased by a mob of taxi drivers who threw rocks’ when she finally arrived safely at the city’s Charles De Gaulle airport.
But while London and Paris are reactionary when it comes to non-traditional taxi services, other European countries are keen to embrace new ideas as a way of proving their technology credentials and hoping to attract consequent investment in their startup ecosystem.
One particular country is the Baltic republic of Estonia, a country of only 1.3 million, but one that has been revolutionary in its pursuit of the Technology Dollar. Not only did it launch an e-citizenship initiative in 2014 and digitise its Government documents while others were still sending faxes, it is also likely to be the first European country to regulate and legalize ride-sharing services such as Uber, and its local and more popular taxi app, Taxify.
Support comes from the highest level as demonstrated by the Estonian Prime Minister last week speaking on the 98th anniversary of the Estonian Republican speech.