Regulation Study Looms For Uber In Europe

In a new development in the ever-raging battle between Uber and European taxi drivers, the European Commission will undertake a study next month of the ride-sharing company, with an eye toward settling the legal actions that have cropped up against the company, Reuters reported Friday (Aug. 28).

Reuters said that the study will mull what legal instruments the EU might have at its disposal to decide whether the U.S. startup should be classified as a transportation service or as a digital service, as noted by an EU official.

Disputes have been the norm across the Continent since Uber set up shop in Paris four years ago, and the company ran into (continuing) protests. Those taxi drivers contend that the company has an unfair competitive edge as it operates without regard for local licensing and safety laws. And, of course, there are the bans in Spain and Germany. The September study will focus on national regulatory regimes for taxi providers across all member states of the EU.

Uber, for its part, has argued that it is a digital platform that simply connects drivers and their would-be customers, as Reuters reported, because classification as a transportation service might make the U.S. company subject to narrower and stricter rules on licensing and insurance.

In an interview with Reuters, an Uber spokeswoman said that “this investigation appears to indicate that the European Commission believes that the manner in which the taxi and private hire sectors are currently regulated in some member states is dysfunctional and is no longer fit for purpose, not to mention new barriers to entry for innovative, technology-based services such as ride-sharing.”

Even as the study is being conducted and is expected to be completed by June of next year, Reuters reported, there remains a case under consideration at the consortium’s highest court that could set precedent for legal battles across the region — and that case may be decided before the study winds down.

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