Uber Technologies Inc.’s clashes with cabbies and authorities across the European Union may be resolved by the bloc’s top court, after a Spanish tribunal sought guidance on whether the share-a-ride company should be regulated as a taxi provider or an app.
The EU Court of Justice should say whether national rules that govern sales and marketing practices could be imposed on Uber -- which is accessed via smartphones -- if it’s deemed to be a digital service rather than a transport company, according to the Barcelona court.
“Uber helps many millions of people across Europe get from A to B quickly and safely,” the San Francisco-based company said in an e-mailed statement. “Yet outdated transport regulations and unfair competition laws are being used against digital intermediaries like Uber, which could benefit many more people, to protect established organizations from competition.”
Legal and political challenges have been stacking up across Europe for Uber. Earlier this month, the company was forced to suspend its UberPop share-a-ride service in France. Uber’s operations have faced difficulties in nations including Portugal, Belgium and Germany.
Mark MacGann, Uber’s head of European public policy, said on a call with reporters Monday that the Spanish court made the reference.
“Today’s patchwork of country rules and regulations is being used by established companies to protect themselves from new and innovative services like Uber, to the detriment of European consumers,” MacGann said on the call. The EU court “will now determine if the national rules currently being applied to digital services like Uber are legal and appropriate under European law.”
Any ruling would be binding across the 28-nation EU and could affect the outcome of other national disputes Uber is facing. The case hasn’t yet been registered with the EU court, according to its press service.