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EU: Former regulator joins Uber’s Public Policy Board

 |  May 9, 2016

Uber is preparing to fight bigger battles in Europe and elsewhere as an end to its regulatory battles appears to be a distant idea.

To better navigate through its many legal hurdles, the ride-hailing company has hired Neelie Kroes, former VP of the European Commission (EU’s executive branch) and a longtime advocate of Uber’s position in the European Union. “Uber is 100 percent welcome in Brussels and everywhere else as far as I am concerned,” Kroes once publicly said, condemning a ban of Uber in Belgium.

Kroes has previously served as the European commissioner of digital agenda and competition for about 10 years. With her appointment, the company is gearing up to better lobby itself to policymakers in the European Union.

Kroes’ appointment comes on the heels of a study, which has been commissioned by the European commissioner, to comprehend the economic, social and legal impact of Uber and decide upon necessary legislation that might be needed to regulate its operation. According to TechCrunch, the study is also looking into classification of Uber-like businesses, which it describes as “transportation network companies” (TNCs).

While the study is merely in its initial stages, its outcome is expected to have an EU-wide affect on Uber’s operations.

“Just a few years ago, only one place [California] had a regulatory framework for ridesharing. Today, more than 70 jurisdictions in the U.S. do, and many other places around the globe are following suit, including in Australia, Canada, India, the Philippines and Mexico,” wrote David Plouffe, Uber’s chief advisor and board member. “As ridesharing continues to grow, we look forward to the board’s candid advice and insights.”

The San Francisco-based company also reportedly appointed Ray LaHood, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, to its public policy board.

Uber’s ramped-up effort to hire top-notch advisors comes as the company faces an exit from Austin, Texas, stemming from new background check laws being mandated by the city.

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