European Court of Justice proclaims Uber a taxi company

Uber urges those who use the service and their driver-partners to stay safe using the app this festive season

Uber suffered a blow yesterday when the European Court of Justice ruled that the ride-hailing app was a transport company and not "an information society service" as it claimed.

"The service provided by Uber connecting individuals with non-professional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport", said the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice. "It is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber and so we will continue the dialogue with cities across Europe".

The ECJ said Uber "exercises decisive influence over the conditions under which the drivers provide their service" and that without the Uber mobile app "persons who wish to make an urban journey would not use the services provided by those drivers".

Prof Andre Spicer, from the Cass Business School, welcomed the ruling.

The classification of being a technology company instead of a transport service had helped protect the billion dollar start-up from national regulations concerning the transport sector.

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In short, this means Uber will now be officially recognised as a cab company rather than a technology company.

The decision in theory applies to ride-hailing services around the 28-nation EU. The ride-hailing company has already withdrawn this service from a number of countries in the EU.

Uber's expected to go before the parliamentarians again after the New Year with "specific details" on how driver hour limits will be put into place, Reuters reported.

"It is necessary to create a fair and transparent environment for every business", Tho said, adding that the existing regulations would be reviewed to create business equality. The company is planning an initial public offering in 2019.

Traditional taxi firms said that they were under tighter regulations than Uber and Grab, such as bans on using several streets, paying more tax - and higher operation costs.

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Taxi drivers in Barcelona's streets honked their horns in victory.

In a tweet Wednesday, Khosrowshahi said that the ruling was "not a setback, since we've already changed our approach in the European Union to follow transportation laws and work with professional drivers". Uber said the ruling would make little difference in practice.

However, an association representing online companies warned that the ruling goes against EU efforts to encourage innovation and help European entrepreneurs compete with USA and Asian rivals.

Based in San Francisco, Uber has grown rapidly since its founding in 2009 to operate in 77 countries and more than 600 cities around the world.

"The goal of those rules is to make sure online innovators can achieve greater scalability and competitiveness in the European Union, unfettered from undue national restrictions", Jakob Kucharczyk, vice president for European Union policy at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, told Reuters.

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The ruling comes on the same day as Uber returns to court to outline an appeal against its London licence.

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