Top EU Court Rules Uber Is A Taxi Service

Uber customer setting up pickup location

Uber insisted that the ruling would have no impact on the way it operated in the United Kingdom and most other European countries where it was already subjected to local taxi regulations.

Almost a third of Uber's 50,000 United Kingdom drivers are logged into the app for more than 40 hours a week, and around 8 percent are logged in for more than 60 hours, the company said in a letter to government officials.

HAS become the second United Kingdom city to ban Uber after receiving more than 150 complaints about the taxi-hailing app.

Ten companies provided technology platforms to implement transportation e-contracts, including Uber and Grab.

As a transport service, the ride hailing app will be "excluded from the scope of the freedom to provide services in general" as well as "on services in the internal market and the directive on electronic commerce".

The case was brought by Elite Taxi, a taxi drivers' association in Barcelona, which argued successfully that Uber was directly involved in transporting passengers. Wednesday's ruling by the ECJ means such so-called peer-to-peer services are now off-limits to Uber and other digital companies. But the highest court in the European Union isn't having it.

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Since July this year (2017), private-hire cars, such as those of Uber and Grab, are required to show decals identifying them as such. "Jurisdictions are becoming more assertive and realizing they don't have to take Uber the way it presents itself", said Tom Slee, author of the book "What's Yours Is Mine", a critique of the sharing economy. She highlighted the larger question that the Uber ruling did not directly address but remains of significant importance: How will societies secure benefits for workers historically tied to employment, like health insurance, workers' compensation, vacation and sick leave.

Subasinghe said the "gig economy" accounted for only a tiny share of Europe's actual employment base, and that share would likely shrink because of the court's decision Wednesday.

It remains to be seen if Uber's business model will suffer as a result of the ruling and the European Commission's decision on platforms.

Legal challenges have forced Uber to halt UberPop in most major European countries in favour of UberX, which requires a licence. He said it is too early to say which other companies might be affected but called the overall message from the ruling worrying for startups.

"Today's ruling isn't a disaster", said Damien Geradin, a partner at Euclid Law in Brussels.

Mark Scott contributed reporting.

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