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Estonia Embraces Uber and Taxify as First European Country to Legalize and Regulate Ride-Sharing

01.03.2016

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While many European cities 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, Forbes writes.

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.

“Wouldn’t it be reasonable at a time when a large part of the world is finding protectionist reasons to prohibit the sharing economy if we, Estonia, would be the first country to welcome Uber, Taxify and Airbnb?

“These business models do not just mean better competition and better service levels, but they may also become a part of the solution to Estonia’s sparse population issue, and incentivize more people to become entrepreneurs”, said Taavi Rõivas, Estonian Prime Minister.

The process is well-advanced. Last week a meeting was held at the Estonian Parliament to initiate amendments to the country’s transport act. If approved, the amendment will be the first of a kind in Europe, with ratification of the amendment expected in weeks, rather than months.

The proposed amendments confirmed that private individuals can provide transportation services as long as certain conditions are met. These include provisions that all bookings are done electronically and service clients can estimate their trip price before the trip.

This will be great news to local company Taxify, that since its launch in the summer of 2013 has seen the company become the biggest ride-booking app in Estonia and the surrounding Baltic States of Latvia and Lithuania.

“At Taxify, we’re proud that we were part of the hearing and provided helpful input for the parliament members and the public to assess the viability of the amendment”, said Markus Villig, CEO Taxify.

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