In a significant ruling, the Court of Justice of the European Union has said that services such as Uber must be considered as a transport service, and regulated by EU Member States as such.
In 2014, a professional taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona brought a legal action in Spain seeking a court declaration that the activities of Uber Spain amount to misleading practices and acts of unfair competition. The Spanish court first needed to decide whether or not Uber was in fact a transport service and subject to the same regulation as taxis, such as requiring drivers to be licensed. The Spanish court referred the question to the EU court.
Uber has long argued that it is just a technology platform, an intermediary linking drivers and riders, not a transport service provider. The EU court ruling means that, in the EU at least, Uber will be regulated as a transport service, and therefore likely subject to the same rules as taxi firms. However these rules are not set at EU level, but locally by Member States and individual cities.