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European high court rules Uber must comply with taxi regulations

[JURIST] The European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] ruled [judgment] Wednesday that Uber must comply with existing transportation regulations.

In doing so, the ECJ found that Uber operates more like a transportation company than an online platform that merely connects riders with drivers. This ruling will require Uber operating in an EU country to abide by the transportation regulations of an individual member state as opposed to the less restrictive e-commerce rules of the EU.

In a press release [text, PDF] accompanying the decision, the court stated that

the service provided by Uber is more than an intermediation service consisting of connecting, by means of a smartphone application, a non- professional driver using his or her own vehicle with a person who wishes to make an urban journey ... that intermediation service must be regarded as forming an integral part of an overall service whose main component is a transport service and, accordingly, must be classified not as "an information society service" but as "a service in the field of transport" ... [C]onsequently, the directive on electronic commerce does not apply to that service, which is also excluded from the scope of the directive on services in the internal market. For the same reason, the service in question is covered not by the freedom to provide services in general but by the common transport policy. However, non-public urban transport services and services that are inherently linked to those services, such as the intermediation service provided by Uber, has not given rise to the adoption of measures based on that policy.
While this has broad implications for Uber and other ride-hailing apps wishing to expand their influence in the EU, this ruling only pertains to Uber's peer-to-peer ride-hailing service, which has already faced a ban in numerous EU countries such as France, Spain and Belgium. Moreover, Uber already operates under the transportation regulations of numerous EU countries.

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