Uber is a company people use to hire drivers who transport them from place to place. Even so, the tech giant has long maintained that they’re not, in fact, a transportation company. The company’s leaders argue they’re simply providing a platform for people to connect with other people, who just happen to want to move them around.

It’s the argument Uber has used to avoid treating its drivers like actual employees who deserve a living wage and benefits. It’s how they’ve tried to wiggle out of liability when drivers cause accidents or assault their passengers. And it’s how the company explains away its decision to flaunt local laws that regulate how taxi companies operate.

Not anymore — at least, not in Europe.

The European Union’s top court ruled Wednesday that Uber is a transportation service that should be regulated like any other taxi operator. It’s a landmark ruling, one that could make it much harder for startups to argue that they’re simply a button on a smartphone and therefore not accountable to their workers and clients.

“The service provided by Uber connecting individuals with non-professional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport,” the European Court of Justice wrote in their decision. “Member states can, therefore, regulate the conditions for providing that service.”

The ECJ further explained that Uber “exercises decisive influence over the conditions under which the drivers provide their service.” Without the app, “persons who wish to make an urban journey would not use the services provided by those drivers.”

The case stems from a complaint by the professional taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona, which argued that Uber’s activities in Spain created unfair competition from the company’s non-professional drivers. They also charged Uber with “misleading practices.”

Uber, worth $68 billion, operates in 600 cities globally. Since its founding about a decade ago, the company has regularly run afoul of regulators and local legislators, along with local taxi drivers. Right now, the company is also fighting for survival in London, its key European market. In September, the city’s municipal transport authority rejected Uber’s application for a new license to operate, ruling that the ride-hailing giant is not a “fit and proper” private car-hire operator. Mayor Sadiq Khan says the dispute may take years to solve.

Frances O’Grady, who runs the British Trades Union Congress, hailed the decision in a statement. “Their drivers are not commodities. They deserve at the very least the minimum wage and holiday pay,” she said. “Advances in technology should be used to make work better, not to return to the type of working practices we thought we’d seen the back of decades ago.”

It’s unclear what kind of impact the ruling will have. In recent months, the company has rolled back products like UberPOP, which allowed riders to hail non-professional drivers for a cheap ride. According to the company, Uber already follows the transportation law of most EU countries where they operate. “This ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law,” Uber said in a statement. “However, millions of Europeans are still prevented from using apps like ours.”

In fact, the biggest changes might come not to Uber but to other startups that use a similar model for everything from getting food and groceries delivered to hiring cleaning services or handymen. Right now, European Union law protects online services from undue restrictions. National government must inform the European Commission of any potential regulations to ensure they are not discriminatory or disproportionate.

“The purpose of those rules is to make sure online innovators can achieve greater scalability and competitiveness in the EU, unfettered from undue national restrictions,” Jakob Kucharczyk, vice president for EU policy at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, told Reuters. “This is a blow to the EU’s ambition of building an integrated digital single market.”

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