The Court of Justice in Europe on Wednesday ruled that the U.S ride-hailing app should be designated a transport company and not a technology company. According to Europe’s highest court ruling, Uber is a taxi company.
The verdict that is a long-awaited judgment by many, including taxi companies is expected to have many implications on Uber regulation in the European countries.
For a long time now, Uber has considered itself as an Information Society Service that connects drivers and riders. The connection between the two is through inter-mediation via the company’s app. This subtle classification has helped to protect the multi-billion dollar start-up from national regulation, and so, making it look like a digital service operating across European borders.
Initially, Uber had argued that it does not run the transport company; it said that it is just a facilitator whose app enables customers to get in touch with self-employed taxi drivers.
A group of taxi drivers from Barcelona disputed Uber’s argument. The drivers said that Uber is running a transport service, but without experiencing the costs and regulations other taxi services undergo.
However, several European governments argue that the U.S based company is a taxi firm. And just like any other firm, Uber should comply with the European’s transportation rules and regulations.
“This ruling will not change things in most of the EU Countries where we already operate under the transportation law. However, millions of Europeans cannot use apps like ours due to the land’s rule,” an Uber spokesperson said shortly after the court’s decision.
The European Court of Justice’s decision on Uber means that the regulation may extend up to 28 European member states. According to Reuters, appealing this case is impossible, but Uber can pursue other legal challenges in other courts.
Five years since Uber’s launch in Europe; the $66 billion company has had many clashes with regulators and other taxi companies. Last year the company re-launched Uber X in Berlin and Madrid. The company took the step after complying with the law that had banned it from operating.