Uber loses key European Union court battle

Uber, which allows passengers to summon a ride through an app on their smartphones, has transformed the taxi industry since its launch in 2011 and now operates in more than 600 cities globally.

Uber is also facing the possible permanent loss of its license to operate in London, after transport regulators ruled that the service wasn't "fit and proper".

But the Singapore authorities have largely embraced private-hire auto services, he noted, pointing out that the developments in the past two years were aimed at governing the burgeoning industry.

Uber's licence was due to expire on Christmas Eve, having twice previously been granted clearance to operate, most recently in December past year.

Those found operating a private-hire vehicle without a decal or vocational licence can be fined up to $1,000, jailed up to three months, or both, for a first offence.

However, the European Court of Justice believes otherwise.

"Today's ruling isn't a disaster".

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An Uber spokesperson said: "This ruling will not change things in most European Union countries where we already operate under transportation law". The company has 21 days to decide whether to appeal against the decision and can continue to operate in York until its licence expires or the appeal is heard.

While Uber publicly shrugged off the blow, the decision will likely still affect its future operations and political manoeuvring in the EU. That is the slogan with which Uber attracts drivers into its pool in one European country.

The case against Uber was brought by Elite Taxi BNC, based in Barcelona, Spain. Statistics like this could support the argument of Uber critics that drivers do the same amount of work as full-time employees, and that Uber should treat them as such.

Everywhere Uber went in Europe, taxi associations and trade unions fought back, striking and lobbying countries to ban the ride-sharing app.

The decision in theory applies to ride-hailing services around the 28-nation EU. He said it is too early to say which other companies might be affected but called the overall message from the ruling worrying for startups. "I think it's a very healthy step towards a better relationship between the law and technology companies, and particularly Uber".

Hoang Thi Ha Giang, Deputy Director of the Tax Policy Department, said clear regulations were needed to efficiently collect taxes from Uber and Grab, which was stil a headache.

Mark Scott contributed reporting.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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