States may prohibit Uber without notifying the Commission

European Union (EU) member states can penalise Uber’s transport activities without first warning the European Commission, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said on Tuesday.

The French subsidiary of the American company, Uber, is being criminally prosecuted in Lille (Nord) for organising the transport of passengers by non-professional drivers via its UberPop service. Uber France maintains that its activities fall within the scope of a European directive requiring Member States to notify the European Commission of any bill that affects this scope. As France did not do this, Uber France can not be sued according to the reasoning of the company.

However, the Advocate General of the ECJ does not agree. First of all, as he had already indicated in another case, which concerned Uber Spain, he considers the services of Uber as transport services, not services for the information society. The Advocate General considers that Member States may prohibit and punish the illegal exercise of a transport activity such as UberPop without first having to notify the Commission of the bill.

The Court is not obligated to follow the advice of its Advocate General, but is consistent with the latter in most cases.

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