Uber is a transportation firm, not a digital company, European court rules

The company was sued by a taxi association in Spain.

LONDON -- Uber is a company that provides transportation services in Europe rather than a digital firm, according to a ruling today by the European Court of Justice, the European Union's highest court for deciding matters of European law.

The decision come three years after a taxi association in Spain asked a commercial court in Barcelona to review Uber’s activity as “unfair competition.” To that end, the court had to figure out whether Uber was providing “information society” services or transport services.

The court said that Uber’s service was beyond “intermediation service consisting of connecting, by means of a smartphone application.”

Uber said the ruling would not affect its activity in most EU countries where the company already operates under transportation law.

“However, millions of Europeans are still prevented from using apps like ours," an Uber spokesperson told ABC News in a statement. "As our new CEO has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber and so we will continue the dialogue with cities across Europe."

While it is yet to be seen what implications this ruling might have for Uber, one expert believes it may later expand to other sharing economy services.

"There could be big implications for a sharing economy service like Airbnb, which will probably be regulated by the EU," Rohan Silva, a tech entrepreneur, said in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today program.