Uber could face tighter regulations across the EU after Europe’s top court ruled that the company was a transport firm.

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled that Uber must be “classified as a service in the field of transport” within EU law.

The decision is being seen as a blow to Uber because it could face stricter regulations and licensing rules in EU member states, including the UK.

The case was brought by Elite Taxi, a taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona, which argued successfully that Uber was directly involved in transporting passengers.

“Uber exercises decisive influence over the conditions under which that service is provided by those drivers,” said the ECJ in its judgement.

“It appears that Uber determines at least the maximum fare by means of the eponymous application that the company receives that amount from the client before paying part of it to the non-professional driver of the vehicle, and that it exercises a certain control over the quality of the vehicles, the drivers and their conduct, which can, in some circumstances, result in their exclusion.”

Uber, which cannot appeal against the ECJ decision, said the ruling “will not change things in most EU countries” where the company was already operating under transport law.

“However, millions of Europeans are still prevented from using apps like ours,” added Uber. “As our new CEO [Dara Khosrowshahi] has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber and so we will continue the dialogue with cities across Europe.”