Uber Deemed Transport Service by EU Top Court Adviser

Uber Deemed Transport Service by EU Top Court Adviser

Uber provides a transport service and must be licensed, the European Union’s top court said on Thursday, in a potential blow to the US firm which says it is merely a digital enabler.

“The Uber electronic platform, whilst innovative, falls within the field of transport: Uber can thus be required to obtain the necessary licences and authorisations under national law,” the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) said.

While the opinion of the Advocate General is non-binding, the court’s judges follow it in most cases and a ruling would mean EU member states can regulate Uber and other such companies as a transport rather than “information society” service.

The case was brought by an association of Barcelona taxi drivers who argued that Uber engaged in unfair competition with its UberPOP service – which used unlicensed drivers.

Uber, which no longer operates UberPOP in Spain, said it would await a final ruling later this year, but added that even if it is considered a transportation company, this “would not change the way we are regulated in most EU countries as that is already the situation today”.

However, such a ruling would “undermine the much needed reform of outdated laws which prevent millions of Europeans from accessing a reliable ride at the tap of a button,” an Uber spokeswoman said in a statement.
Uber, which allows passengers to summon a ride through an app on their smartphones, expanded into Europe five years ago.

But it has been challenged in the courts by established taxi companies and some EU countries because it is not bound by strict local licensing and safety rules which apply to some of its competitors.

The Advocate General said Uber drivers “do not pursue an autonomous activity that is independent of the platform. On the contrary, that activity exists solely because of the platform, without which it would have no sense.”

Uber could not be regarded as a mere intermediary between drivers and passengers because it controlled economically important aspects of the urban transport service, Maciej Szpunar said in the opinion.

“The service amounts to the organisation and management of a comprehensive system for on-demand urban transport,” the ECJ statement said.



EPCA Meets Transport Department, App-Based Taxi Service Officials

EPCA Meets Transport Department, App-Based Taxi Service Officials

A day before the Supreme Court takes up the matter, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) met Transport department officials of NCR states and representatives of app-based cab services like Ola who have been asked to switch to CNG by March 31.

EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal said officials of the app-based companies were categorically informed during the meeting, which was “urgently” convened, that they will have to abide by the SC order .

“Uber did not have any representation in the meeting.

They said that they got the information about the meeting late. While that is okay, there is no way any company can wriggle out of the SC directives,” Lal said.

Deep Singh, Business Head North at Ola, said that the company will abide by the SC order and have already submitted a letter to EPCA to confirm the same. The company has over 26,000 CNG cars in its Delhi fleet currently.

Sunita Narain of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), who is a member of EPCA, said that only CNG cabs of app-based companies will ply in the NCR region from April 1 while those using Delhi as a transit will not be allowed to take or off-load passengers.

The Supreme Court in January had extended the deadline for all taxis in the National Capital Region to convert to CNG mode from March 1 to March 31 and directed the Centre to set up 104 gas stations in ten districts of NCR.

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Tags: Apps, EPCA, India, Ola, Ola Cabs, Uber