[Vincent Wood] UBER faces tough regulation after being forced to obey the same rules in Europe as other taxi services, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.
The ECJ handed down the verdict on the taxi hailing app on Wednesday, declaring uber is operating as a transport service as opposed to a tech company.
While a ruling branding Uber as a transport company is unlikely to trigger an immediate shift in the way it operates, it will allow EU member states to regulate the US company as though it were a traditional taxi firm.
From there, nations living under the yoke of Brussels will be able to demand Uber obey rules on licensing and assurance that apply to other cabbies.
Uber – which has clashed with local and national regulators across Europe since its launch on the continent six years ago – has long claimed it is simply a digital app which which helps to connect drivers and customers.
EU law keeps online services protected from undue restrictions, and forces national governments to notify Jean Claude Juncker’s European Commission of any measures regulating them so the bloc can ensure they are not discriminatory or disproportionate.
But Transport services, such as London’s black cabs, are regulated at national and local level no EU oversight.
Ahead of the ruling, an Uber spokeswoman said: “Any ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law.
”As our new CEO has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber.
“We want to partner with cities to ensure everyone can get a reliable ride at the tap of a button.”
Tim Roache, General Secretary of drivers’ union GMB, said: “GMB welcomes this decision which confirms that Uber is, as we have always said, a transport company.
“We now want to see sensible regulation being applied to Uber and all drivers to ensure worker and public safety, and a level playing field for all our driver members.
“No doubt TfL will be reviewing this decision closely when they consider GMB member driver evidence in Uber’s current license appeal.”
It comes amid a difficult few months for the controversial taxi app.
In September London Mayor Sadiq Khan clamped down on Uber, stripping the company of its operating license.
And last month the US startup lost a bid to overturn the findings of a British tribunal, who declared Uber drivers deserved workers’ rights such as the minimum wage.