Is Uber a tech or transport firm? Europe’s highest court’s about to decide

A major question of modern times asking whether Uber is a transport or technology company is set to be answered by Europe's highest court on Wednesday.

The European Court of Justice will make a ruling in a long-running case originating in Spain and is expected to decide that Uber is a transport company.

The implications of the ruling are that Uber will be regulated as such in future and rules can be set at country level, whereas laws for digital platforms are set Europe-wide.

Read more: Uber wins five year licence renewal in Cambridge

In an earlier opinion from an adviser to the court, which is not legally binding but foreshadow's the decision in the majority of cases, advocate general Maciej Szpunar said Uber was "undoubtedly transport".

Uber had argued that it is digital service, but insists that a decision against it will not impact its business.

"Any ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law. However, millions of Europeans are still prevented from using apps like ours. As our new chief executive 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.”

The case was first brought by cabbies in Spain and is in relation to its UberPop service which lets anyone use their car to take rides. That service has faced a number of difficulties with regulators in Europe, most recently being shut down in Helsinki and Zurich.

The ruling will however give authorities better direction on how to handle the startup.

Read more: MPs call for national Uber driver licence standards

It comes as Uber returned to court today to outline its appeal case in connection with its licence in London. Transport for London moved not to renew its licence in September but Uber can continue to operate while an appeal is heard.

Lawyers acting for the regulator told Westminster Magistrates Court that one or two issues with the accuracy of information provided by Uber were among the "points the decision is based".

Uber on Tuesday was given a five-year licence to operate in Cambridge while officials in Sheffield last week gave it the green light following a brief suspension.

The London appeal is due to be heard next year.

Original Article

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