'Member States may prohibit and punish, as a matter of criminal law, the illegal exercise of transport activities,' without referring decisions to Brussels, rules European Court of Justice
The European Union's top court has dealt another blow to Uber after ruling that member states can ban ride-sharing services without having to notify Brussels first.
The ruling came after France banned the UberPop service, which allowed drivers without a taxi licence to pick up passengers.
French authorities passed the law in 2014, after finding that the service would provide unfair competition to licensed cab drivers.
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A court in Lille later asked the European Court of Justice whether the European Commission should have been notified before the law was passed.
The court said in a statement on Tuesday that “Member States may prohibit and punish, as a matter of criminal law, the illegal exercise of transport activities in the context of the UberPop service, without notifying the Commission in advance of any laws penalising such services".
In a statement, Uber said: “It is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber and so we will continue the dialogue with cities across Europe.”
Uber France is facing legal action in Lille over the UberPop ride-sharing service. The company argues that member states like France are required to notify the European Commission about the law under which the case was brought because it concerned a an “information society service”.
But the ECJ referred to a previous ruling in December relating to a similar service operated by Uber in Barcelona. In that case, the court found that Uber was a transportation provider, not simply an app. National governments are free to impose more laws on transport companies then they are on information services which are regulated at the EU level to a greater extent.
“In the Court's view, the UberPop service offered in France is essentially identical to the service provided in Spain,” the ECJ statement said.
It is the latest legal blow for the controversial taxi service which has caused major disruption to traditional cab operators around the world who say that Uber’s operating model has allowed it to dodge costly regulations.