Barcelona has managed to attract technology companies in recent years in the shadow of the celebration of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), and last December was designated by the European Commission capital of urban mobility. Despite these avant-garde airs, the city has been crashing with transport platforms for more than four years. Uber and Cabify. Its inclusion in the urban mobility network has been slowed down every time an attempt has been made to regulate the sector. Even when those companies assumed to operate through VTC licenses, as ordered by the Ministry of Development to regularize their situation.
When the European Union announced that Barcelona was becoming its capital in urban mobility, the community government disseminated in what aspects the team in charge of developing that responsibility would have to work. One was to "stimulate markets and behavioral changes through the regulation and commitment of mobility prescribers". Another point was based on the fact that Barcelona would have to find solutions to "promote the competitiveness of the European economic sector of mobility by generating and promoting market opportunities".
Sources of the City assure that neither the presence of Uber nor the one of Cabify in Barcelona – that now threaten to leave the city when not having a regulation that allows them to develop their business -, were taken into account as elements to be exploited at the moment of build the candidacy for Barcelona to compete for the European capital of mobility. "One issue is technological innovation and digital platforms that work with respect to fiscal, labor and environmental obligations. And another, the platforms with speculative practices, to which this government has opposed from the first day, "said yesterday the same sources of the municipal government. "If Uber and Cabify want to operate in the cities they have to respect their obligations without making unfair competition," the sources insist.
Comply with the rules
Colau announced yesterday: "Welcome the investments as long as they do not do unfair competition, do not operate globally to avoid paying taxes locally […]. The local rules have to be fulfilled, it can not be that sheltering in global platforms is intended to skip the rules of the game. "
But the technological disruption that these companies boast, as well as the alternative to the private car they represent, makes some institutions doubt that letting these two platforms go is good for Barcelona.
Mateu Hernández, CEO of Barcelona Global, a private entity promoting the city, said yesterday that the latest controversy in charge of the conflict between taxi drivers and VTC license owners "does not play in favor of a city that is at the forefront of the technology". He added that it is "paradoxical" that the Generalitat and the City Council are not capable of elaborating "an exemplary regulation" when the Consistory has been able to do it on topics such as bike lanes or electric scooters. In the opinion of Hernandez, you can not do without platforms "that have a lot of technology behind you" in the same way that you have to help the taxi sector to renew itself and adapt "to the new times".
Salvador Guillermo, director of the Economy of Work Promotion, lamented the image that the conflict is offering the city. He warned that the agreement between the Generalitat and the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB), which also chairs Ada Colau, "only for the coup, because this is a new clash between the traditional economy and the new economy." Guillermo considers that "it is necessary to think about a restructuring of the taxi" and, above all, to legislate "in cold and not in hot, as it has been done now".
Find the lace
Barcelona Tech City believes that "for Barcelona to be a leading city, we have to be able to find a fit for all these traditional models and new disruptive business models." Beyond specific platforms, the entity is convinced that the city "must be able to offer mobility alternatives to make it more sustainable". "In this sense, it is not good news that we can not find a fit for these platforms", conclude from this association, which brings together more than 800 digital and technological companies in Barcelona.