(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Wed, 20 Dec 2017) London, Uk – –
Uber has suffered a major blow in Europe with the EU’s highest court declaring it a transport provider, and not an internet company as it had argued.
The European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that Uber is “a service in the field of transport”. It means that it has to abide by local laws governing taxi companies, rather than the much less stringent restrictions for tech firms.
The ruling will make it easier for hostile regulators to chase Uber out of cities. The service does not exist in major cities such as Copenhagen, Budapest and Barcelona, and has also lost its licence in London, although it continues to operate as it appeals the decision.
The company insisted the ruling would not affect it in most markets, including the UK, saying it already abides by local transport laws in many jurisdictions. However, if it had been classed as an “information society service”, the company would have been protected by EU freedoms on providing online services.
“In today’s judgment, the Court declares that an intermediation service such as that at issue in the main proceedings… must be regarded as being inherently linked to a transport service and, accordingly, must be classified as ‘a service in the field of transport’,” the ECJ said.
“Consequently, such a service must be excluded from the scope of the freedom to provide services in general.” The decision pointed out that “Uber exercises decisive influence over the conditions under which the drivers provide their service”.
The news is the latest blow to Uber, which has endured a year plagued by internal scandals, difficulties in major markets, and legal battles. It recently disclosed a hack that saw the data of 57m users stolen.
An Uber spokesman said: “This ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law. However, millions of Europeans are still prevented from using apps like ours.
“As our new CEO has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber and so we will continue the dialogue with cities across Europe. This is the approach we’ll take to ensure everyone can get a reliable ride at the tap of a button.”