The "Uber Files" currently being discussed at European
level highlight the closeness that exists between corporate and political power
in the European Union (EU). Members of Parliament (MEPs) who are part of the Employment
and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL) expressed outrage at the European lobbying
carried out by Uber before the summer political recess.
The welfare of the workers would have taken second place to the aim
of making more profit. Although it would now be hard to imagine the European
landscape without these drivers, little attention was being paid to their
A whistle-blower from within the company
than 100,000 company files were leaked to various journalists by a former
European Uber lobbyist that revealed the ethically questionable practices
implemented by Uber. Even though Uber is based in San Francisco in the USA,
it is still making huge profits here in Europe. Many bans against Uber's
anti-competitive practises have been quickly lifted in various member states. Possibly
because of the lobbying methods being used.
Politics in their sights
politicians, such as Neelie Kroes, the former Dutch Vice-President of the European
Commission, have helped them. She lobbied for Uber during her 18 months grace
period after leaving the European Commission. Kroes, having being the
Commissioner for Competition, was prohibited from lobbying companies during her
grace period. The European Parliament is now calling for an investigation into
the former commissioner to get her to answer the charges of violations of
transparency and lobbying rules.
As a company, Uber has sought to erode worker’s rights for its own
profit. Back in December 2021, the European Commission proposed a
directive to improve the working conditions of platform workers. Political regulations covering the gig
economy would be changed so that platform workers would be entitled to the
right to social security under EU legislation. The EMPL will vote on the
mandate for negotiations with member states in October. So changes in the
platform economy are already on the horizon.