The European Court of Justice will decide whether Uber is a taxi transportation company or a digital platform. A Barcelona judge submitted the request for a decisive clarification for the future of platform capitalism in Europe. On Aug. 7, 2015, the judge referred the decision to the Luxembourg-based courts after a complaint of the Spanish company Elite Taxi against Uber.
The Spanish judge has asked the court “if the intermediation between the owner of a vehicle and the person who needs to travel within a city — activities that [Uber] performs for a profit with the management of information technology resources, interfaces and application of computer programs like ‘smartphones and technology platforms,’ that allow people to get in touch — should be considered as a mere transportation activity, or an electronic brokerage service or an information technology service.”
The judgment won’t come until at least March. If the court decides Uber is a transportation service, the multinational corporation, which is worth more than $60 billion, will have to comply with labor and safety laws and comply with the laws that regulate the activities of taxi companies and cooperatives. If, however, the court defines Uber as an “information technology company” or a digital platform that simply matches passenger demand with the supply of self-employed drivers, then the company can continue its “UberPop” service, which allows any driver to go into business as an unlicensed taxi.