An advocate general at the European Court of Justice on Thursday declared Uber to be chiefly a transportation services company, rather than a digital platform, in a highly influential recommendation to the court. The non-binding recommendation is part of an ongoing case in the European Union over whether Uber is solely an "information society services" marketplace, or a taxi company that should be subject to pertinent local regulations in E.U. member states, the New York Times reports. A final ruling from the highest court in Europe—which often, though not always, rules in concert with advocate general recommendations—is expected in late summer.
The opinion comes as a setback for Uber's international growth, significantly hampering its ability to operate in areas of Europe where its drivers will now have to obtain a taxi license. In a statement, Uber said that a ruling following the advocate general's opinion would "undermine the much needed reform of outdated laws which prevent millions of Europeans from accessing a reliable ride at the tap of a button."
The case originated with a complaint filed by a Barcelona taxi group accusing Uber of unfair competition.