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European court rules Uber is a transport company

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that Uber is a transport company and not a digital service as the company had argued, ensuring that it will come under stricter regulation.


European court rules Uber is a transport company

Although the firm had denied it was a transport company, the ECJ ruling, which follows a challenge from a professional taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona, Spain, the Court said that a service whose purpose was “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’ within the meaning of EU law”.

The ruling comes after Transport for London (TfL) deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service and refused to renew its licence in September, although Uber continues to operate in London while it appeals.

The verdict was greeted by GMB, the drivers’ union. Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary said: “We now want to see sensible regulation being applied to Uber and all drivers to ensure worker and public safety, and a level playing field for all our driver members.

“No doubt TfL will be reviewing this decision closely when they consider GMB member driver evidence in Uber’s current licence appeal.”

However, Uber commented: “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.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.