UBER IS OFFICIALLY a cab firm and not a digital service, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.
Going against the ride-sharing firm – who had previously argued it is an information service – the ruling states that a service whose purpose is “to connect, by means of a smartphone application and for remuneration, non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with persons who wish to make urban journeys” must be classified as a “service in the field of transport” in EU law.
The ruling continued: “As EU law currently stands, it is for the member states to regulate the conditions under which such services are to be provided in conformity with the general rules of the treaty on the functioning of the EU.”
The case came to fruition in Barcelona after the city’s local authority told Uber it had to be subject to its local taxi regulations. It means that Uber will need a license and perform like any other taxi firm to operate in certain European cities.
However, Uber said before the verdict was delivered that a ruling against it would make no difference to how the firm operates in European countries where it does meet national regulations, including the UK.
“Any ruling will not change things in most EU countries, where we already operate under transportation law,” Uber said in a statement.
“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.
“We want to partner with cities to ensure everyone can get a reliable ride at the tap of a button.”
The news of the ruling against the controversial cab firm comes just a few months after it launched an appeal against Transport for London’s (TfL) decision not to renew its private hire licence.
Uber’s licence expired on 30 September after it was told by TfL told it that it would not be renewed over concerns that the ride-hailing firm is not “fit and proper” to operate a private hire service in London, citing concerns with the “conduct and approach” of the firm.
TfL cited concerns including Uber’s approach to reporting criminal offences, its treatment of drivers, how it conducted medical and criminal checks on drivers, and whether software employed to evade regulation was being used in London.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said at the time: “I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology… However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect.
“I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to licence Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoner’s safety and security.”
However, it is said that the appeal process could take years, so it’s likely Uber will continue to operate in London as normal, for quite some time. µ
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