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Uber is transport service, can be regulated, rules EU court

The case is yet another thorn in the side for scandal- rocked Uber, which has drawn the fury of local taxi drivers and officials for flouting local regulations

AFP | PTI  |  Luxembourg 

Uber will adopt a policy of one share, one vote and has also set a deadline for the closely held company to go public in the next two years	photo: reuters
Photo: Reuters

The EU's top court ruled on Wednesday that is an ordinary transportation company instead of an app and should be regulated as such, in a decision that will be closely watched around the world.

The case is yet another thorn in the side for scandal- rocked Uber, which has drawn the fury of local taxi drivers and officials for flouting local regulations.

It also comes the same week as one of its drivers admitted to the attempted rape and murder of a British embassy worker coming home from a night out in Beirut,

"The service provided by connecting individuals with non-professional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport," said the Luxembourg-based

"Member states can, therefore, regulate the conditions for providing that service."

Uber, the biggest name in the growing gig economy, claims it is a mere service provider, connecting consumers with drivers in more than 600 cities.

But it has run into huge opposition from taxi and other competitors who say this allows it to dodge costly regulations such as training and licensing requirements for drivers and vehicles.

The case was brought by a taxi drivers' association in the Spanish city of Barcelona, where belief runs high that is a taxi company that should be subject to rules governing such vehicles.

In a dense legal judgement, the ECJ said that Uber was a service that connects "by means of a smartphone application and for remuneration non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with persons who wish to make urban journeys."


That means it is "inherently linked to a service and, accordingly, must be classified as a 'service in the field of transport' within the meaning of EU law."

The EU court's senior adviser had said in a legal opinion in May that Uber was indeed a company.

The company has rejected that argument, saying it will harm innovation.

"To be considered a company will not change the regulations we are subject to in most European countries," a for Uber said.

"It will, however, hurt the necessary reform of outdated laws which prevent millions of Europeans being able to find a reliable ride with just one click," the said.

Uber has had a rough ride in Spain, where a judge ruled in 2014 that its service risked breaking the law, leading to the Barcelona submission to the ECJ.

Early last year it decided to only operate a limited a version of its service in which uses licensed, professional drivers instead of the amateurs who had previously worked via the application.

First Published: Wed, December 20 2017. 16:29 IST
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