The local government in Berlin has banned Uber, saying that the service posts a risk to the safety of the public.
With the ban, Berlin becomes the second city in Germany to prohibit the company's ride-sharing service. Last month, local authorities in Hamburg banned the app because its drivers do not have proper licenses. City officials warned that drivers who transported passengers through the service would be fined 1,000 euros ($1,337).
Uber disputed the Hamburg ban and was able to get authorities to temporarily suspend the directive. This gave the company's drivers enough leeway to continue operating in the city.
Berlin's Uber ban goes into effect immediately. The ban covers the company's pricier Uber Black and low-cost Uber Pop services. The city's punishment for anyone who ignores the new rule is significantly more severe than that of Hamburg's. Uber will be fined 25,000 euros every time one of its drivers picks up a passenger. The company's drivers (Uber says it doesn't have any), on the other hand, face fines of up to 20,000 euros.
"We intend to formally challenge this decision and fully expect that Berlin will follow the Hamburg authorities' lead and overturn the prohibition order," Fabien Nestmann, Uber's Germany General Manager, said in a blog post.
"The decision from the Berlin authorities is not progressive and it's seeking to limit consumer choice for all the wrong reasons. As a new entrant we're bringing much-needed competition to a market that hasn't changed in years. Competition is good for everyone because it raises the bar and ultimately it's the consumer who wins."
The Berlin Senate's Department of Civil and Regulatory Affairs justified the ban by saying that the service poses a risk to consumers because its drivers and vehicles do not have the proper licenses. It also admitted that it is protecting licensed cab drivers, saying that the "basic thought of protecting the taxi business also plays a role."
Berlin has often sold itself as an alternative to the entrenched cab driver lobby. This has made the service a target for established taxi services. Cab drivers in Berlin joined simultaneous protests in key European cities against Uber last June. The drivers blocked roads in city centers, calling for an end to what it describes as unfair competition from the ride-sharing app.