The European Union’s top court has ruled that Uber should be regulated like a taxi company. That means the ride-sharing service must comply with tough rules that govern traditional taxi associations. Uber had argued that it’s a technology platform that connects independent drivers with passengers. The landmark ruling will require Uber to treat its drivers more like employees. The decision cannot be appealed.
“The service provided by Uber connecting individuals with non-professional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport,” the EU Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday. The EU’s 28 member states “can therefore regulate the conditions for providing that service.”
Uber had already been forced to abandon its UberPop service in several major European countries. Instead it offers UberX which operates using professionally licensed drivers. “This ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law,” said an Uber spokesperson in response to the ruling.
The case is a culmination from over five years of disputes between the ride-sharing company and various taxi associations across Europe. Taxi groups have argued that Uber undercuts their business and should be subject to the same rules and regulations that they are. The tension has sparked violent protests in the past.
The ruling could also set an important precedent affecting companies that operate in the gig economy like Foodora and Deliveroo, where workers are paid on a freelance basis or through short term contracts. The European Commission has previously said it wants to create a regulatory framework for the sharing economy, and the World Bank notes that temporary workers in the EU earn an average of 14 percent less than those with open-ended contracts.