Uber dealt a fresh blow in European legal case
Uber suffered a blow to its expansion plans in Europe on Tuesday after a senior adviser to the region’s highest court said that the ride-hailing service should have to abide by tough rules governing taxi services.
The recommendation, a nonbinding opinion by an advocate general for the Court of Justice of the European Union, adds to an array of challenges that Uber is facing worldwide. This year alone, the company has grappled with a sexual harassment scandal and the resignation last month of its chief executive, Travis Kalanick.
The case before the court hinged on whether Uber should be treated as a taxi service in France, and therefore be subject to rigorous safety and employment rules, or as a digital platform that merely connected independent drivers with passengers.
French authorities brought criminal proceedings last year against the ride-hailing service for infringing a law that required any vehicle carrying passengers for a fee to be licensed as a taxi service and to have appropriate insurance.
Uber had argued the law was a “technical regulation” over digital services. That being the case, the company said, French authorities were required to notify the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, before adopting the legislation. Because France did not do so, Uber contended, the law could not be enforced.
The senior adviser, Maciej Szpunar, an advocate general of the court, recommended Tuesday that Uber was effectively a taxi service. He wrote that France could ban certain types of transportation services it deemed illegal without having to notify the European Commission.
“We have seen today’s statement and await the final ruling later this year,” an Uber spokesperson said.