It’s eight o’clock in the morning as I step of the Thalys in Brussels. I’m still a bit sleepy when I enter the conference room and hear our friend and global policy advisor, April Rinne, give an overview of collaborative economy news from around the world. National governments in Asia are putting it in the agenda. The Chinese government predicts that ten percent of its economy will be collaborative by 2020. Cities in Korea and Japan on their way to become Sharing Cities. Plus the frontrunning role of the Netherlands with Amsterdam Sharing City, the Green Deal Carsharing and its innovative government. And last but not least, Europe. 

I came to Brussels to present about and discuss the European Agenda for the Collaborative Economy (Brussels, June 2 2016), with international experts, entrepreneurs and policymakers. Several platform founders including Pascal Ontijd (Snappcar) and Daan Weddepohl (peerby) presenting their take on the future of the collaborative economy in Europe. In the audience are several European Commissioners including the vice-presindent Jyrki Katainen, and people from the European Parliament. 

What did I learn? 
1.    There is a new European body aiming to represent collaborative economy in Brussels called EUCoLab. In their first meeting they succeeded in getting relevant stakeholders aeround the table. 
2.    While the European Commission has the ability to influence national governments, they do not have the constitutional power to impose regulations on national governments. This may be counterintuitive because this economy is largely tech-based. However, the tech enables physical economies (cars, houses, goods, meals, services, etc) that are described in national laws.
3.    There is a huge potential for Europe’s Sharing Cities tos teer the future of the collaborative economy. Both the European Commission and national governments are looking for case studies from which they can learn. 

It’s eight o’clock in the evening as I board the Thalys in Brussels. Watching the city passing by I realize once again the importance of cities in shaping our future. If we keep activating European cities to engage with the collaborative economy, we will be able to demonstrate to policymakers at all levels on what is needed to end up in a better version of Europe where everyone has access to all products and services, necessary for a connected, prosperous, sustainable and happy life.

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