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Uber’s ‘Pause’ in Norway Means UberPop Is Off the Road Across Scandinavia

Uber will from the end of this month stop offering its low-cost UberPop service—the one that uses regular people as drivers—in Norway due to questions over the service’s legality.

With Sweden, Denmark and Finland all having given UberPop the cold shoulder, the latest shutdown means the service is unavailable across all of Scandinavia.

In a Monday post that described the move as a “pause,” Uber said it would continue to offer Oslo residents its UberBlack limo service and its UberXXL service for ferrying larger groups of people. However, Uber claimed, it wanted to “limit any issues that drivers may encounter on the road,” so until the regulatory acceptability of UberPop is clearer in Norway, it’s off the road in Oslo.

The “issues” faced by UberPop drivers in Norway are serious: they could lose their driving licenses and even their cars, because the service is illegal and the authorities have been cracking down on it in recent months.

Uber threatened to leave Norway a few months ago, in protest at what it sees as unfair regulations that favor traditional taxi firms.

But those have been an eventful few months, with combative CEO Travis Kalanick being ousted and replaced by Dara Khosrowshahi. Uber’s public relations machine is very keen to pitch Khosrowshahi as a more conciliatory figure who is giving the company a new character.

In particular, the new CEO is trying to make nice with authorities across the countries where Uber is having regulatory difficulties. The biggest example of this so far has been his apology to Londoners after that city effectively banned the service by refusing to extend its operating license.

The language in Monday’s Oslo-related post reflected this change of style: “We’ve learned the hard way that we must change as a company in order to serve the millions of riders and drivers who rely on us. With our new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi onboard, it’s a new era for Uber.”

The post continued Uber’s agitation for new rules, pointing to Finland—where Uber was also forced to suspend its services—for an example of “progressive” new rules. Uber said it would un-pause its Helsinki services when that new law comes into effect next year, and that it would do the same in Oslo once lawmakers make a re-entry possible.