Uber will present its arguments about being a digital service, as opposed to a transportation service, in the European Court of Justice tomorrow, reports New York Times. This hearing will determine the way the company will operate across the European Union. Globally, Uber maintains that it is a digital platform connecting drivers and riders.
The present case was brought against Uber by Spanish taxi association Asociación Profesional Élite Taxi in Spain citing unfair competition in 2014. In the same year, a Spanish taxi operator alleged that Uber was running an illegal service in the country, leading to the company suspending the UberPOP service (anyone can drive without a professional license) there.
In July last year, the case was referred to the European Court of Justice, seeking a determination on whether Uber was a transport service or a digital platform. The NYT report says that the ruling could take from March 2017 to beyond and could sway between Uber being a transport service, an online platform or a combination of both.
The taxi hailing service ventured into Europe with a launch in France in 2011. After being banned in several countries in the European Union, it filed complaints against France, Germany, and Spain alleging that the countries were in violation of its freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services.
European Commission for ‘sharing economy’
This June, the European Commission (EC) said that European countries should only ban “sharing economy” type companies as a last resort. EC’s VP Jyrki Katainen said that ‘stricter regulations on sharing economy companies could cost Europe.. That Europe needed to be as open as the US for new innovative business models and address the negative effects.. And not become a parallel informal economy operating free of regulation.’ EC’s paper supported that sharing economy companies should not be subject to sector specific rules unless they owned assets and set the price of services.
UK Court: Uber’s drivers are employees
Earlier this month, a UK Office of the Tribunals court ruled that Uber drivers had the rights of full time employees in Britain. UK Uber drivers (40,000 currently) would be entitled to earn national minimum wage, holiday and sick pay and other benefits.