EUROPE: The European Union’s top court ended a years-long dispute Wednesday when it ruled that Uber should be classified as a transport service and not a digital company.
The landmark rulingfrom the European Court of Justice (ECJ) states that Uber will have to obey by the same regulations as taxi companies. Uber argued it was a digital app that connected drivers and customers looking for a ride, and that it should therefore fall under the scope of online services.
The case originates from a complaint by a professional taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona. Individual countries may still make their own legislation to give Uber greater freedom than regular taxi companies.
“The service provided by Uber connecting individuals with non-professional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport,” ECJ said in its ruling. “Member states can, therefore, regulate the conditions for providing that service.”
Uber representatives said the ruling will have little effect on the way the company operates in Europe.
“This ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law,” an Uber spokesman told BBC. “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.”
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