The cab service provided by Uber is properly to be regarded as a transport service rather than one covered by "information society" regulations, and can be regulated as such by member states, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled today.

Agreeing with an earlier opinion of the advocate general (click here for report), the judges ruled in favour of a professional taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona, which sought a declaration in the Spanish courts that the activities of Uber Systems Spain amounted to misleading practices and acts of unfair competition in not having the licences and authorisations required under the regulation on taxi services in the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

Uber argued that its service was covered by the directive on services in the internal market, or the directive on electronic commerce, and its practices could therefore not be regarded as unfair.

The court declared that a service, the purpose of which was to connect, by means of a smartphone application and for remuneration, non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with prospective customers, had to be regarded as being inherently linked to a transport service and therefore classified as "a service in the field of transport" within the meaning of EU law. Consequently, such a service was excluded from the scope of the freedom to provide services in general, as well as the directive on services in the internal market and the directive on electronic commerce.

It followed that, as EU law currently stands, it was for the member states to regulate the conditions under which such services were to be provided, in conformity with the general rules of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.

Click here to access the judgment (available only in French and Spanish).