Uber is a taxi company, says European Court of Justice

Uber’s future in Europe looks to be in doubt, following a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice stating the company must be viewed as a taxi company and not a digital service.

The ECJ came to the decision that ‘[connecting], by means of a smartphone application and for remuneration, non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with persons who wish to make urban journeys’ must be classified as ‘a service in the field of transport’ in EU law.

Uber’s classification as a digital service has previously allowed them to take a flexible approach to local legislation, with many stating that this gives Uber an unfair advantage over local competitors. The loophole has also meant that Uber has been able to classify its drivers as self-employed, allowing it to avoid minimum wage and paid holiday legislation.

Whilst some have commented that the news may result in Uber becoming more liable for its drivers’ wellbeing, the company has stated that the verdict will not affect their European activity.

The decision caps off what it’s fair to say has been a rough year for Uber, with license removals in various major cities, a cover up of leaked user data, and multiple personal changes following due to accusations of a toxic working culture.

Uber loses another UK license

Following in the footsteps of Sheffield and London, York has decided not to renew Uber’s operating license following a decision by councillors to reject the firm’s application.

The decision was partially informed by complaints made against the company, with York Council stating that over the course of 2017 they received over 155 complaints about Uber drivers and vehicles. The council stated that the company’s recent data breach cover up also informed the decision to not renew the firm’s license.

York drivers have long protested Uber’s presence in the city, with many complaining that the firm had resulted in unfair levels of competition. Echoing this opinion, Saf Din of York Hackney Carriage Association stated that York had been “overwhelmed” by out of town drivers, citing that some had come as far as London and Birmingham to work in the city.
Local councils announce plans for clean air zones

Leeds has become the latest city to announce plans for a clean air zone, following similar suggestions in Cambridge earlier this year.

In December the council revealed plans to charge high emissions vehicles up to £100 when driving within the city centre. The plans come as part of a wider government scheme to reduce emissions in the UK’s most polluted cities, including Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton.

If executed, the plans would only initially affect high emissions taxis, private hire vehicles, buses and HGVs. However, private vehicles would be exempt from any potential charges.