Is Uber a taxi company? A strange question you may ask but nonetheless last year the company was battling against this very idea at the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The ECJ ruled that Uber was a taxi company and has ever since been in a battle to improve its services. In 2009 Uber presented itself to the world as a digital platform for connecting people, rather than as a taxi service. In the past Uber was considered a tech company, which means it bears few of the obligations that come with being a taxi company such as regulation and protection rights for its employees & passengers.
There are many differences between tech and taxi companies, this is significant because of how it affects the safety of people who use Uber and the rights of people who work for it. Many believe that Uber should be viewed as a taxi company and not a tech company, a view shared by ECJ. Their decision has meant to have changed the way Uber is regulated by governments across Europe.
Now Uber is classified as a taxi company its obligations have changed, improving the safety of its users and the well-being of its employees. If we look at the wider picture, the ruling by the ECJ was the first step in creating a regulatory framework for the sharing economy. The ruling has now started to take effect on companies such as Deliveroo & Airbnb.
Not everyone agreed with the ruling at the time and it is argued that the changes to the sharing economy will in fact stifle innovation and jeopardise the thousands of jobs created by the gig economy. One year on, have things improved? Has the ECJ’s intentions paid off for the better? Or has it just harmed the sharing economy and brought in unfounded regulation?
We will let you decide…