BUSINESS

French President Calls For Uber Car Seizures After Violent Protests By Taxi Drivers

06/26/2015 08:26 EDT | Updated 06/26/2016 05:59 EDT
PARIS - France's president wants Uber's cheapest car service shut down and its vehicles seized, but Uber refuses to stop the service until a ruling by the country's top court.

The standoff, and a violence-marred taxi strike that upended Paris travel, reflects larger tensions in France over how to regulate fast-moving technology and stay globally competitive while ensuring labour protections.

France's top security official, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, said Friday that Uber is facing multiple investigations. He spoke to RTL radio a day after striking taxi drivers attacked Uber livery cars and setting fire to tires on a major artery around Paris.

Some taxi drivers continued the protest Friday, but the strike did not appear to seriously disrupt morning travel around Paris, and no violence was immediately reported.

Uber's cheapest service, called UberPop in France, was banned here, but Uber officials insist they will continue their activities until France's highest court rules on the service.

Cazeneuve called that "cynical and arrogant."

French President Francois Hollande said Friday, "The UberPop group must be dissolved and declared illegal, and the vehicles must be seized." But he said that the executive branch can't do that without further action through the courts.

Hollande, speaking at an EU summit in Brussels, accused Uber of not respecting "the social and fiscal rules." French authorities are frustrated that Uber doesn't pay the same taxes and social charges as traditional taxis do.

Uber argues that the French taxi system is outdated and needs reform to keep up with apps and geolocalization, and that traditional taxis are just trying to quash competition.

The company faces similar legal challenges and criticism from taxi drivers' associations around the world.

Furious taxi drivers in France say the low-cost UberPop service is ruining their livelihood. Uber drivers have been repeatedly ambushed, sometimes with customers inside.

  • France Taxi Strike
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Riot police officers stand by an overthrown car during a taxi drivers demonstration, Thursday, June 25, 2015 in Paris, France. French taxis are on strike around the country, snarling traffic in major cities and slowing access to Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport after weeks of rising and sometimes violent tensions over Uber. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
  • France Taxi Strike
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Police officers stand next to a a burned out car during a taxi drivers demonstration in Paris, France, Thursday, June 25, 2015. French taxis are on strike around the country, snarling traffic in major cities and slowing access to Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport after weeks of rising and sometimes violent tensions over Uber. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
  • France Taxi Strike
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Striking taxi drivers stand behind an overthrown car during a taxi drivers demonstration, Thursday, June 25, 2015 in Paris, France. French taxis are on strike around the country, snarling traffic in major cities and slowing access to Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport after weeks of rising and sometimes violent tensions over Uber. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
  • FRANCE-TRANSPORT-TAXIS-SOCIAL-MOVMENT-DEMO
    THOMAS SAMSON via Getty Images
    Smoke rises from a fire burning next to French CRS riot police standing near an overturned car as taxi drivers block Porte Maillot in Paris on June 25, 2015. Hundreds of taxi drivers converged on airports and other areas around the capital to demonstrate against UberPOP, a popular taxi app that is facing fierce opposition from traditional cabs. Access to three terminals at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport and in a number of areas of Paris, especially Porte Maillot, were blocked. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
  • FRANCE-TRANSPORT-TAXIS-SOCIAL-MOVMENT-DEMO
    THOMAS SAMSON via Getty Images
    Smoke rises from a fire burning next to a French CRS riot police officer standing near an overturned car as taxi drivers block Porte Maillot in Paris on June 25, 2015. Hundreds of taxi drivers converged on airports and other areas around the capital to demonstrate against UberPOP, a popular taxi app that is facing fierce opposition from traditional cabs. Access to three terminals at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport and in a number of areas of Paris, especially Porte Maillot, were blocked. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
  • FRANCE-TRANSPORT-TAXIS-SOCIAL-MOVMENT-DEMO
    THOMAS SAMSON via Getty Images
    Smoke rises next to an overturned car as taxi drivers block Porte Maillot in Paris on June 25, 2015. Hundreds of taxi drivers converged on airports and other areas around the capital to demonstrate against UberPOP, a popular taxi app that is facing fierce opposition from traditional cabs. Access to three terminals at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport and in a number of areas of Paris, especially Porte Maillot, were blocked. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)