On December 18th 2017, the European Court of Justice has neutralised the special treatment of “Uber” (the electronic platform on which a transport service can be ordered), by judging that this company supplies transport services and thereto no longer can be seen as a mere "intermediary" organising transportation. The member states of the European Union are from now on allowed to submit Uber to their regulations and rules on taxi services.
This discussion has taken its start in 2014, when a Spanish taxi-organisation ‘Asociación Profesional Elite Taxi’ claimed for the Court of Commerce in Barcelona, that Uber Systems Spain was guilty of unfair competition towards the taxi drivers of Elite Taxi. Because of the fact that the Spanish Judge of the Commercial Court was not sure how the activities of Uber needed to be interpreted according to European legislation, he asked these questions to the European Court of Justice.
According to the Court of Justice, Uber is more than just a mere application that connects passengers with drivers, it provides at the same time a service of transportation. Moreover,
Uber opposes conditions on the drivers before they can start a driving career in this company,
The drivers get also paid by Uber,
Uber influences the quality of the work delivered by the drivers, which can also lead to exclusion of the platform when the quality is substandard.
Uber determines the price of the service.
For all these reasons, the Court of Justice decided that Uber should be qualified as a transportation service. This will imply furthermore that the regulations on the electronic commerce will not be applicable and that the member states of the European Union, can submit Uber to the same rules they applicate for taxi services (for example requiring licences for the service).
With this judgement, the opportunity is given to the member states of the European Union to close an era of unfair competition towards taxi companies.
Source: : ECJ
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