Sharing economy: Parliament calls for clear EU guidelines

  • Ensure consumer protection, workers’ rights, tax obligations and fair competition
  • Need for clear and balanced EU strategy
  • 17% of EU consumers have used collaborative platforms
Collaborative economy - house sharing ©AP Images/European Union-EP      
Accommodation is one of the key sectors of the collaborative economy© AP Images/European Union-EP 

The EU should reap the benefits of the “collaborative” or “sharing” economy, while ensuring fair competition, workers’ rights and tax compliance.

Parliament stressed the need to address regulatory grey areas that cause significant differences in the Member States’ national and local regulations and case law. The new business models range from providing accommodation (e.g. Airbnb) and car journeys (e.g. Uber), to domestic services.

MEP’s recommendations include:

  • individual vs professional providers: effective criteria to distinguish between “peers” (e.g. individual citizens providing services on an occasional basis) and “professionals” are needed, with general principles at EU level and thresholds at national level (e.g. based on income),

  • consumer rights: inform consumers about the rules applicable to each transaction and their rights; collaborative platforms should put in place effective systems for complaints and for settling disputes,

  • liability: the EU Commission should further clarify the collaborative platforms’ liability as quickly as possible,

  • workers’ rights: fair working conditions and adequate protection should be guaranteed for all workers in the collaborative economy; workers should also be able to transfer and accumulate users’ electronic ratings and reviews, which constitute their “digital market value”, and

  • taxation: similar tax obligations should be applied to businesses providing comparable services, whether in the traditional economy or in the collaborative economy; MEPs advocate for innovative solutions to improve tax compliance and call on platforms to collaborate to this end.

Regulation should, however, not restrict the collaborative economy, MEPs said, condemning in particular regulations being imposed by some national authorities “which seek to restrict the supply of tourist accommodation”.

The non-binding resolution was approved by 510 votes to 60, with 48 abstentions.

Quote by rapporteur

Nicola Danti (S&D, IT), rapporteur, said: “A European strategy on the collaborative economy is indispensable. The objective must be to prevent different rules from applying to similar services in the traditional and in the collaborative economies, both in terms of market access and tax collection, thus ensuring fair competition between online and offline operators and among them and the so-called prosumers”.

Quick Facts

A 2016 Eurobarometer showed that 17% of European consumers have used services provided by the collaborative economy, and 52% are aware of the services offered. Peer-to-peer accommodation is the largest collaborative economy sector on the basis of generated commerce, while peer-to-peer transportation is the largest measured by platform revenue.

This non-legislative resolution is Parliament’s response to the Commission communication on a European agenda for the collaborative economy.