“Ridesharing” uber company Uber has denied accusations that it should be regulated like a taxi service in Europe, claiming its product is nothing more than smartphone software that connects drivers and customers.
Uber made this argument at the highest court in the European Union, the European Court of Justice.
The Californian-based firm made the, now all too familiar, argument that its business is focused purely on providing a smartphone app and made the case that it’s software was responsible for reducing pollution and improving the overall quality of life in the European countries where it operates. I’m not making this up, they really did.
“Uber is part of a wave of technology which radically changes the way we shop, obtain information…[It]… contributes to linking drivers and passengers more efficiently,” said Uber lawyer, Cani Fernandez
Uber has faced criticism and resistance from local authorities and taxi companies since it entered the European Union markets five years ago
The case which is not expected to be settled by the European Court of Justice until late in 2017 will decide whether Uber should be treated and regulated as an ordinary taxi company or like Uber would rather, as just a digital service.
The distinction between the two is important, as if Uber is found to be a taxi service provider like any other, it would face itself facing the same strict regulations and extra costs.
The Uber case was referred to the ECJ by a Barcelona judge after a 2014 ruling caused Uber to suspend services in Spain after complaints that its “software” operations were unfair competition.
The Barcelonan taxi operator behind the current court case claims Uber has an unfair advantage because it did not face the same costs.
“If there is a transport service provided, a company should not be able to hide behind the thin veil of a different service,” the taxi company’s lawyer Montse Balagué Farré said.