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BRUSSELS, July 4 (Reuters) - Member states may criminally punish illegal transport activities such as UberPOP without seeking the EU's opinion on the draft law, an adviser to the top European Union court said on Tuesday.
The opinion in the case before the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) over a dispute with French taxi drivers is another setback for U.S. ride-hailing app Uber, which has argued that it is a mere digital intermediary service and should not be treated as a transport service.
"Member states may prohibit and punish, as a matter of criminal law, the illegal exercise of transport activities in the context of the UberPop service, without notifying the Commission of the draft law in advance," the advocate general said in statement by the Court.
The opinion is not binding on the judges, who are expected to rule later this year, but the court generally follows the advocates generals' advice. (Reporting by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)