Uber is a transportation firm and not a digital service, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled today, and as such must now comply with EU transportation regulations.
The European high court decision comes after years of wrangling between Uber, launched less than a decade ago, and EU taxi associations which have repeatedly called for intervention citing unfair competition.
The ruling is a significant setback for the San Francisco-based ride-hailing firm that has had to deal with a series of legal challenges across Europe and elsewhere and is blow to its future expansion plans.
“The service provided by Uber is more than an intermediation service,” EU judges said, adding that it “must be classified as ‘a service in the field of transport’.”
“As EU law currently 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 ruling says.
In response, the ride-booking company said the verdict would not affect operations in Europe.
“This ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law… However, millions of Europeans are still prevented from using apps like ours. 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. This is the approach we’ll take to ensure everyone can get a reliable ride at the tap of a button,” an Uber spokesperson said.
Insiders underline that the ECJ ruling paves the way for similar actions regarding the gig economy.