Ubers are taxis, the European Court of Justice has ruled.
The ride-hailing firm, which is battling regulators in Mexico, argued it was an information society service, merely helping people to make contact with each other electronically, and not really a taxicab company.
The case came before the court after Uber was ordered to obey local taxi rules in Barcelona.
The court found that a service whose purpose was “to connect, by means of a smartphone application and for remuneration, non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with persons who wish to make urban journeys” must be classified as “a service in the field of transport” in European Union law.
“As EU law currently stands, it is for the member states to regulate the conditions under which such services are to be provided in conformity with the general rules of the treaty on the functioning of the EU,” the decision reads.
An Uber spokesperson downplayed the decision, stating: “This 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 CEO has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber and so we will continue the dialogue with cities across Europe. This is the approach we’ll take to ensure everyone can get a reliable ride at the tap of a button.”
But the New York Times called the ruling a “major setback.”
“It is likely to restrict the company from expanding services that allowed nonprofessional drivers to offer rides to clients,” wrote the Times.
With information from BBC News