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Europe's Highest Court Classifies Uber as Transport Service

22 December, 2017, 01:28 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • The EU's top court has decided Uber is a taxi company after all

Transport regulations will be reviewed to ensure a fair business environment for firms, Deputy Minister of Transport Le Dinh Tho said at a conference on Tuesday to review a two-year pilot project of applying technology in passenger transport, including auto and motorbike hailing services, such as Uber and Grab. The ruling will now force Uber to comply with the bloc's rules for taxis and other transport companies, meaning the company could face stricter licensing and other requirements.

This verdict comes as a response to a complaint from 2014 from a professional taxi drivers' association in Barcelona, Spain.

Uber has said such a ruling would not change the way it functions in most European Union countries because it already operates under transportation law there.

The judgment by the European Court of Justice is a blow to Uber's efforts to use courts to lighten its regulatory load and forces it to deal more directly with national and local governments that set rules governing vehicle and transport services in Europe, according to a report from Dow Jones Newswires supplied to Efe. "Without transport services, the business wouldn't exist".

It added: "As EU law now 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 taxi drivers said Uber drivers should have authorizations and licenses, and accused the company of engaging in unfair competition.

Uber said in a statement that the ruling "will not change things in most European Union countries where we already operate under transportation law" and that it will "continue the dialogue with cities across Europe" to allow access to its services. Nonetheless, Uber maintains that it will continue to pursue dialogue with various cities in the region to ensure that as many people as possible can use the app.

In short, this means Uber will now be officially recognised as a cab company rather than a technology company. An Uber spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

She added: "Their drivers are not commodities".

In fact, the biggest changes might come not to Uber but to other startups that use a similar model for everything from getting food and groceries delivered to hiring cleaning services or handymen. Advances in technology should be used to make work better. "Today, the court has called it to order and reminded Uber that its feet are solidly planted on the pavement, just like everyone else".

Uber has had a roller-coaster year that also included the ouster of its CEO, sexual harassment allegations and the revelation that it covered up a massive breach of customers' data.

This longstanding legal battle could also have implications for other gig economy businesses by entitling workers to employment benefits such as the minimum wage, pensions and holiday pay.

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