Uber labelled ‘transport’ operator

Uber has been labelled as a transport business that requires a licence to operate by senior members of European Union’s top court.

If enforced, it could mean Uber has to operate under the same conditions and safety rules as established taxi firms. Uber has always maintained it only provides technology to help drivers find passengers but claimed the decision did little to change the way it was regulated.

The BBC reports that Maciej Szpunar, advocate general at the Court of Justice of the European Union, made the decision while considering a case brought by an association of taxi drivers from Barcelona. They said Uber was competing unfairly by using unlicensed drivers for its service.

Mr Szpunar said that although Uber was ‘innovative’, the way it operated still fell within the realm of transport rather than information services.

‘Uber can thus be required to obtain the necessary licences and authorisations under national law,’ said Mr Szpunar. Although not a binding decision, in the past judges’ ruling on cases before the court have generally followed the advocate’s lead.

In response, Uber said it was already regulated as a transport operator in many European countries so the ruling would have little impact.