Ride-hailing app Umber provides a transport service and can be regulated like traditional taxis, the European Union's top court said on Wednesday in a landmark ruling that will determine the rules Uber and peers have to respect in Europe.
The service provided by Uber connecting individuals with non-professional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport," the European Court of Justice said. Member states can therefore regulate the conditions for providing that service," it said.
The case follows a complaint from a professional taxi drivers' association in Barcelona that Uber's activities in Spain amounted to misleading practices and unfair competition from Uber's use of non-professional drivers - a service Uber calls UberPOP.
The ECJ said Uber exercises decisive influence over the conditions under which the drivers provide their service” and that without the Uber mobile app persons who wish to make an urban journey would not use the services provided by those drivers.
The ruling is not likely to have an immediate impact on Uber operations in Europe, where it already operates under local transportation laws and has cut back its use of unlicensed services such as UberPOP.
This ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law, an Uber spokeswoman said in a statement.