EU judges put the brakes on Uber

The European Court of Justice has dealt Uber a major blow, ruling that the company won't be allowed to offer the services of private individuals as drivers in the future. The judges stated that the company is a transportation firm and therefore the same rules must apply as for taxi drivers, including as regards special driving licences. Is the ruling in keeping with the times?

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Die Presse (AT) /

We'll miss Uber

The daily Die Presse laments the ruling against the transport services company:

“It's true: the drivers or bike messengers often aren't insured and don't get holidays or pensions. But they are adults who know what they are letting themselves in for - because they want flexible working hours or are students who want to earn a bit on the side or live in countries with ossified job markets and can't find permanent employment. No, in the age of the sat nav, drivers no longer need detailed knowledge of the local area. But the fact that Uber drivers are generally friendlier than normal taxi drivers boosted demand for their services. We would miss their smiles.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Sharing economy needs to be tamed

Der Standard, by contrast, praises the ruling:

“Uber and Airbnb have turned into ruthless big businesses that benefit from a competitive imbalance. They use aggressive strategies for optimising their tax relief via the Netherlands or Ireland, while such a model isn't available to a taxi driver in Wels or a hotel business in Vienna. Uber doesn't see itself as a taxi company and nor does Airbnb see itself as a hotel, which is why laxer regulations apply for both companies in Austria and in Europe. ... Getting the sharing economy under control without swamping it with a barrage of regulations is the biggest challenge for economic policy in the coming years.”

The Times (GB) /

Same rules must apply for everyone

Internet-based businesses must not expect special treatment, the Times writes welcoming the decision:

“Whether in transport, accommodation or online publishing, firms cannot duck responsibility for the products they provide by claiming that their only activity is to connect third parties. … None of this is to denigrate Uber. No one can deny that it is a highly innovative company, whose technological ambition and devotion to the customer have transformed the taxi market and made it that much easier to move around big cities. It must admit, however, that it is part of that market.”