EU top court adviser says Uber is transport service, may needs licenses

Xavier Trudeau
Mai 12, 2017

Notably, while the CJEU will pass a binding judgment on the validity and interpretation of the relevant European Union law in light of Szpunar's conclusions, it will be the court in Barcelona that ultimately rules on the Uber case.

Advocate General Maciej Szpunar said in a legal opinion Thursday that Uber there was providing a comprehensive system for on-demand urban transport that can be regulated.

Mr Szpunar said that although Uber was "innovative", the way it operated still fell within the realm of transport rather than information services. Szpunar expressed this non-binding opinion earlier today in Luxembourg, dismissing Uber's notion that it's merely an app that operates in a significantly different manner to that of ordinary taxi services.

National courts must focus on the wellbeing of children when deciding on their parents' residency, the European Court of Justice said in a Wednesday ruling.

In short: Uber is a transport company, and needs to follow local laws on how other taxi and transportation firms operate - which are often far stricter than those it now follows. While the San Francisco-based ride-hailing giant has been putting smaller taxi companies out of business across the globe, it often did so amidst allegations of unfair competition that have been made by both its competitors and regulators.

A final decision by the ECJ is due later this year.

Uber, which allows passengers to summon a ride through an app on their smartphones, expanded into Europe five years ago.

The move would presumably make Uber subject to any number of regulations, perhaps driving up costs to end users in the region or outright slashing some of its product. Uber sees itself as an app, and defended that position last month again in the European Union court in a separate, French case, which continued to puzzle the EU's top judges.

Kalanick: Many observers claim the problems at Uber stem from the top, and the CEO did nothing to dissuade them of this view when he was caught on video berating an Uber driver after he complained about lower fares. This statement simply means Uber is not an aggregator of transportation services but a transport company itself.

"It will, however, undermine the much needed reform of outdated laws which prevent millions of Europeans from accessing a reliable ride at the tap of a button" said an Uber spokesperson".

"Uber can not be regarded as a mere intermediary between drivers and passengers", Szpunar said.

For Uber, the decision might mean it has to take more care of its drivers and ensure they are properly trained.

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