Estonian government: Uber not a transportation services provider
The Estonian government adopted a position on Thursday to be sent to the Court of Justice of the European Union. In it, it states that it considers Uber to be an information society service provider, not a transport operator.
The government stated that a company acting as an intermediary between drivers of private motor vehicles and passengers had to be considered an information society service provider, not one of transportation services. The grounds for the decision stated are that the provider is only concerned with the purpose of offering and consuming a service, not with the service itself.
A Spanish court requested a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and submitted four questions asking the court to define what kind of services Uber provides.
In particular, the Spanish court asked if the services Uber provides could be qualified as merely a transport service, or if it had to be considered an electronic intermediary service, or an information society service.
If the Luxembourg body should find that Uber — which is facing bans in several European countries, including France, Germany and Spain — is a digital service provider, it would be much harder for national regulators to curb its activities, the Financal Times wrote.
On the other hand, a ruling that Uber should be considered a transport service could force fundamental changes to its business model, with the potential to significantly increase operational costs. This could include how drivers are insured as well as the company’s to adhering to the requirements of local regulatory bodies.
Uber said it welcomed the move that could expedite its strategy to appeal to the EU’s institutions to help counteract national bans.
“We don’t want to be exempt from any regulations,” Mark McGann, Uber’s head of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said last year when the preliminary ruling was sought. “But we think regulations need to be fit for the digital age.”