Regardless of how innovative it is, Uber is still a company that provides transportation services, which is why regulators can demand that it procures all taxi licenses and related permits that are imposed on traditional transportation companies, according to one Maciej Szpunar, Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Szpunar expressed this non-binding opinion earlier today in Luxembourg, dismissing Uber's notion that it's merely an app that operates in a significantly different manner to that of ordinary taxi services. The statement doesn't carry legal weight but could still indicate that regulators on the Old Continent are preparing to force Uber into obtaining licenses that other transportation services pay for.
The latest turn of events marks yet another legal issue for Uber that's been struggling with similar charges in many parts of the world — including Europe — for years. While the San Francisco-based ride-hailing giant has been putting smaller taxi companies out of business across the globe, it often did so amidst allegations of unfair competition that have been made by both its competitors and regulators. The firm was banned from operating in Taiwan and Italy for those reasons earlier this year, though the former ruling was quickly suspended, while the latter was overruled last month. Regardless, the latest comments made by the CJEU's Advocate General imply that Uber's fight to prove it's not a taxi company is far from over, at least in Europe.
The CJEU is expected to make a ruling on the matter later this year, after which Uber might be forced to change its modus operandi in some parts of the Old Continent as the U.S. tech giant will be unable to appeal the court's verdict. A spokesperson for the company on Thursday said that Uber is waiting for the court's final decision, adding that Uber will continue operating in most European countries like it did so far even if it's hit with an unfavorable verdict and noting that the case is primarily significant due to the fact that it could prompt many European countries to change their outdated transportation laws. An update on the situation is expected to follow this summer.