A European framework for regulatory responses to the collaborative economy

Author: European Committee of the Regions 

Date: 4-5 December 2019

Why we did select this research?

The Committee found that the Commission's Communication on "A European Agenda for the Collaborative Economy" did not provide comprehensive answers to some of the crucial questions raised by the collaborative economy; believes that this inaction has resulted in leaving highly political decisions up to the courts rather than the European and regional legislator. In addition, the existing EU regulatory framework – introduced before the age of collaborative economy platforms – is effectively outdated and cannot respond to the challenges posed by the collaborative economy.

Key findings

The Committee of the Regions:

  • calls on the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission to put the collaborative economy at the forefront of their priorities for the 2019-2024 term of office;
  •  notes that the collaborative economy is based on a triangular relationship between three categories of participants – customer, supplier and platform/intermediary – which differs significantly from the traditional "chain" model and bilateral customer-supplier relations on which the existing EU regulatory framework is based - therefore that the concrete application of EU law to these new business models is far from comprehensive and often difficult to establish;
  • highlights the benefits the collaborative economy can provide when operated in a fair and regulated level playing field, such as stronger competition in many sectors with disruptive effects on incumbents resulting in a wider choice for consumers and lower costs, better employment opportunities and the positive environmental impacts stemming from a more efficient use of assets and resources;
  • points out nevertheless that besides advantages, the collaborative economy also has negative impacts on traditional businesses and local communities; emphasises that an undermining of labour and consumer rights and environmental protection standards is not acceptable in the single market, and points out that the Committee is drafting a separate opinion on employment and social aspects of platform work;
  •  considers that online and offline economic activities should be treated equally on a level playing field in the single market;
  • shares the Commission's desire, expressed in its 2016 "Agenda for the Collaborative Economy", to balance the two policy objectives of addressing current problems – and providing legal certainty – through regulation on the one hand, and encouraging innovation, new businesses and the further development of the collaborative economy on the other;

You can find the complete list of considerations for housing, data, taxation and environmental impact in the following pdf: 

Reference: European Committee of the Regions (2019). A European framework for regulatory responses to the collaborative economy. COR-2019-01951-00-00-AC-TRA (EN), pp.1-10, Bruxelles.