COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business
CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONSUMERS AND BUSINESSES
Enabling the balanced development of the collaborative economy
The way many services and assets are provided and consumed is rapidly changing: the collaborative economy, a complex ecosystem of on-demand services and temporary use of assets based on exchanges via online platforms, is developing at a fast pace. The collaborative economy leads to greater choice and lower prices for consumers and provides growth opportunities for innovative start-ups and existing European companies, both in their home country and across borders. It also increases employment and benefits employees by allowing for more flexible schedules, from non-professional micro jobs to part-time entrepreneurship. Resources can be used more efficiently thereby increasing productivity and sustainability.
According to a recent study, the five main collaborative economy sectors (peer-to-peer finance, online staffing, peer-to-peer accommodation, car sharing and music video streaming) have the potential to increase global revenues from around EUR 13 billion now to EUR 300 billion by 2025. A third of European consumers say that they will increasingly participate in the collaborative economy.
However, the emergence of new business models often impacts existing markets, creating tensions with existing goods and services providers. Both sides complain of regulatory uncertainty over the application of rules on consumer protection, taxation, licensing, health and safety norms, social security and employment protection. Hasty or inadequate regulatory responses to these challenges risk creating inequality and market fragmentation.
Such difficulties and uncertainty need to be addressed. A clear and balanced regulatory environment is needed that allows the development of collaborative economy entrepreneurship; protects workers, consumers and other public interests; and ensures that no unnecessary regulatory hurdles are imposed on either existing or new market operators, whichever business model they use.
The Digital Single Market Strategy has already kick-started work to analyse the role of platforms, including in the collaborative economy. This initiative will be complemented by other cross-sector studies and active engagement with market operators, consumers and public authorities.
Building on this work, the Commission will issue guidance on how EU law applies to collaborative economy business models and relevant provisions of national law. This guidance will be based on the Services Directive, E-Commerce Directive, European consumer legislation, as well as on relevant treaty provisions. It will consider international best practice and should help Member States and market operators better understand the applicable rules. It will also guide the Commission’s enforcement action to ensure that national law does not hinder the development of the collaborative economy in an unjustified manner. The Commission will further assess whether and how any regulatory gaps need to be addressed. It will develop a monitoring framework helping to track the development of the collaborative economy at local, national, company and sector level.
Actions: The Commission will develop a European agenda for the collaborative economy, including guidance on how existing EU law applies to collaborative economy business models. It will assess possible regulatory gaps and monitor the development of the collaborative economy.