That decision was taken by the court in a case about the Romanian app Star Taxi App. This app links taxi drivers directly to people who are looking for a taxi ride.
The drivers set their own prices, do not pay a percentage to a parent company and are not assessed. This makes it a pure IT service and not a real taxi company, the court said.
The highest European court addressed the matter because a Romanian judge wanted to know how to assess the app.
The pronunciation is important for other taxi apps in the European Union. It makes it clearer what rules they must adhere to.
No permit, so fine
The case began with a going to court through Star Taxi App. The service was fined € 925 for not having a license to pair taxi drivers with passengers, according to the Bucharest Municipality.
Star Taxi App found that it did not require a permit and contested the fine. The Romanian court passed the question on to the Court of Justice, which now determines that Star Taxi App is not a transport service but an information service.
Permit requirement only with good reason
This means that the service falls under European legislation for the free movement of services and should not simply be subject to a licensing requirement.
“This is only allowed if there is a good reason,” explains the spokesman for the European Court of Justice. “For example for public order, public health or other good reasons.”
And the Romanian judge has to consider that now. The municipality of Bucharest will therefore have to demonstrate that there is a good reason that the taxi app is subject to a license.
Nothing changes for Uber
Nothing will change for Uber, because Uber by a statement from two years ago is seen as a taxi company, said the court spokesman.
If an app is subject to transport legislation, each country can determine for itself what conditions are imposed on a company.
“You have to look at how the taxi app works on a case-by-case basis. If the app works more like the Romanian app, then it is an information service. If it works more like Uber, it falls under the transport services.”
Only if Uber overhauled its way of working could it try to get out of the current rules.