Europe’s highest court announced Thursday their recommendation that the ride-sharing company Uber should operate under the region’s strict transportation rules. The announcement may slow down Uber’s growth across entire Europe.
The major concern raised by the case was centered on Uber’s classification as a transportation company. While Uber only sees itself as a digital platform that connects independent drivers with passengers, Europe’s highest court disagreed. By designating Uber as a transportation service the company will have to comply with European countries’ safety rules, and with any other legislation that applies to the traditional taxi associations, which are Uber’s primary competitor in the region.
“Uber cannot be regarded as a mere intermediary between drivers and passengers,” said Maciej Szpunar, an advocate general at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Mr. Szpunar wrote in an opinion that will be reviewed by the European Court of Justice, which is expected to make a final ruling by late summer, the New York times reported.
“It is undoubtedly transport which is the main supply and which gives the service meaning in economic terms,” Mr. Szpunar added. “The service amounts to the organization and management of a comprehensive system for on-demand urban transport.”
Marloes van der Laan, an Uber spokeswoman, said in a statement on Thursday, “Being considered a transportation company would not change the way we are regulated in most E.U. countries… It will, however, undermine the much-needed reform of outdated laws which prevent millions of Europeans from accessing a reliable ride.”
“Uber is a company whose main activity is transportation,” said Montse Balagué, a lawyer for the Spanish taxi association that filed the original complaint, in an interview on Thursday. “Justice is done. We agree 100 percent with the advocate general’s opinion.”