Rough ride: Uber pauses services in Barcelona amid Catalan crackdown

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By Chris Harris  & Marta Rodriguez
A taxi is pictured in Barcelona during a protest against ride-hailing apps.
A taxi is pictured in Barcelona during a protest against ride-hailing apps.

Spain today became the latest European country to kick back against popular ride-hailing firm Uber.

Authorities told the company and Spanish counterpart Cabify they could only pick up passengers in Catalonia 15 minutes after being booked.

The move strikes at the heart of their unique selling point: being able to immediately book a ride from anywhere in the city or region.

It comes after protests by Barcelona taxi drivers who claimed they were not operating on a level playing field.

There have been similar protests in the Spanish capital Madrid.

Uber said in a statement to Euronews that it was suspending its services in Barcelona but would continue elsewhere in Spain.

“The new restrictions approved by the Catalan Government leave us with no choice but to suspend UberX while we assess our future in Barcelona," a spokesman said.

“We are committed to being a long-term partner to Spanish cities and hope to work with the Catalan government and the city council on fair regulation for all."

Cabify and Unauto VTC, an association of transport companies in Spain, said Barcelona's decision to adopt the new regulation could put 3,000 jobs at risk in Barcelona.

Authorities in London, Bulgaria and Denmark have cracked down on Uber, while France, Germany and Italy have banned its cheapest service, UberPop.