New rules regulating ridesharing in Romania went into effect on Friday, upending the growing alternative transport market that faces fierce opposition from taxi drivers.
Starting Nov. 1, ridesharing applications such as Uber, Bolt, Yango or Clever need to have a technical permit from the communications ministry and an operating license from the Romanian Road Authority.
If not, they risk fines up to 9,000 lei or 1,900 euros and losing their car license plates for six months, under rules laid out in an emergency ordinance.
Parliament’s chamber of deputies adopted an amendment to the Alternative Transport Bill on Oct. 22 which gave drivers an extra three months to comply with the regulation, but critically, it wasn’t sent to the president who needs to sign off on legislation. The law can still be contested by the Constitutional Court
Uber recently reported that only half of its drivers had managed to obtain the permit, meaning that the others would have to suspend their activity as of Nov. 1.
Romania has an estimated 20,000 drivers registered on ridesharing platforms. Taxi drivers staged months of protests against Uber saying the drivers weren’t regulated and represented unfair competition.
Under this pressure, the government adopted an emergency ordinance in April which would have banned the ridesharing services, but in June, the government passed another decree regulating the activities of ride-sharing services. Until then, the two companies had been operating in something of a grey area, neither legal nor strictly illegal
The Coalition for Digital Economy reports that ride-sharing services bring direct and indirect benefits of more than 1 billion lei (210 million euros) annually.