Uber to be treated like a regular taxi firm, rules EU court
Ride-hailing service Uber’s woes deepened on Wednesday, as the European Union’s top court ruled the company should be treated as a traditional taxi firm, a decision that may impact the way the company is regulated across Europe.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling dismissed Uber’s claim to be a technology platform that connects drivers to riders, and therefore should not be subjected to the same regulatory requirements as taxi companies, in a case stemming from a complaint raised against the company by a professional taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona.
“The service provided by Uber connecting individuals with non-professional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport,” the ECJ said in its ruling. “Member states can therefore regulate the conditions for providing that service.”
As a result of the decision, the company will face stricter regulation and licensing requirements within the EU.
Uber said the ruling, which cannot be appealed, would not change how the company carries out its operations in most EU countries.
“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,” the company said in an emailed statement.
“This is the approach we’ll take to ensure everyone can get a reliable ride at the tap of a button.”
The ECJ’s ruling comes as Uber returns to court in London to outline an appeal against its licence ban in the UK capital.
Transport regulators in London made the surprising decision in September to withdraw the app-based firm’s operating licence, citing concerns over the way the company reported criminal offences and carried out background checks on its drivers.
Transport for London accused Uber of demonstrating a “lack of corporate responsibility”.
Uber can continue operating during the appeal process, which could take months or even years.
A judge ruled on Tuesday that Britain’s GMB Union and the London Taxi Drives’ Association, the representative body for the capital’s black cab drivers, can participate as ‘interested parties’ in the appeals process, which is due to be heard in June.
Concerns over passenger safety have been raised in many cities across the world in which Uber operates.
On Monday, an Uber driver in Beirut confessed to murdering a British embassy worker and leaving her body at the side of the motorway.
The driver admitted strangling 30-year-old Rebecca Dykes, who had hailed the taxi after leaving a party in the Lebanese capital.