Uber provides a transport service and should be regulated like any taxi company, the European Court of Justice decided today, in a case that will determine the rules Uber has to respect in Europe.
Uber has long-considered itself an “information society service” which connects drivers and passengers through inter-mediation via their app. This subtle classification has helped to protect the multi-billion dollar start-up from national regulations and means it has been treated as a digital service operating across borders in the EU’s single market.
However, several European governments have argued the U.S. company should be considered a taxi firm, and just like thousands of others, it should have to comply with European transport laws.
“The service provided by Uber connecting individuals with non-professional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport,” the European Court of Justice said.
“Member states can therefore regulate the conditions for providing that service,” it said.
The case follows a complaint from a professional taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona that Uber’s activities in Spain amounted to misleading practices and unfair competition from Uber’s use of non-professional drivers – a service Uber calls UberPOP.