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An Adviser to the E.U.’s Top Court Says Uber Is a Transport Service and May Need Licenses

Uber Technologies Inc. Electric Car Taxi Service In MadridUber Technologies Inc. Electric Car Taxi Service In Madrid
An Uber Technologies Inc. driver uses the company's smartphone app inside a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S electric automobile in Madrid, Spain, on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. Ride-hailing service Uber Technologies has launched its first electric car taxi service in Madrid, operating a fleet of Tesla Model S electric vehicles. Photographer: Angel Navarrete/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesAngel Navarrete—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Ride-hailing app Uber is providing transportation services, an adviser to the top European Union court said on Thursday, dealing a blow to the U.S. start-up which has argued it is merely a digital enabler.

“The Uber electronic platform, whilst innovative, falls within the field of transport: Uber can thus be required to obtain the necessary licenses and authorizations under national law,” the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) said in a statement.

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The opinion is non-binding but judges at the court tend to follow it in most cases.