The collaborative economy, sometimes called the sharing economy, covers a great variety of sectors and is rapidly emerging across Europe. Many people in the EU have already used, or are aware of collaborative economy services, which range from sharing houses and car journeys, to domestic services. The collaborative economy provides new opportunities for citizens and innovative entrepreneurs. But it has also created tensions between the new service providers and existing market operators. The European Commission is looking at how we can encourage the development of new and innovative services, and the temporary use of assets, while ensuring adequate consumer and social protection.
The collaborative economy offers greater choice to consumers and new opportunities to entrepreneurs, but citizens and businesses must be aware of existing rules and obligations. With the Communication on the European agenda for the collaborative economy, the EU provides clarity on applicable EU rules and policy recommendations to help citizens, businesses and EU countries fully benefit from the new business models and promote the balanced development of the collaborative economy.
As part of the European Commission's effort to monitor the development of the collaborative economy, a study was undertaken to assess regulation affecting the collaborative economy in the short-term accommodation sector. The study aims to provide a description and preliminary assessment of the regulatory environment in EU countries while taking into account the dynamics and on-going changes in the sector.
This study assesses the business environment in the collaborative economy across 6 themes (accommodation, transport, finance, public administration, business support and alignment) in EU countries. The study developed a 'Collaborative Economy Index' to measure and benchmark the openness of regulatory environments and the supportiveness of administrative actions.
This study measured how developed the EU collaborative economy is in the transport, accommodation, finance and online skills sectors. The size of the collaborative economy was estimated at €26.5 billion (0.17% of EU GDP in 2016) and provides work for 394,000 people (0.15% of EU employment).
This Joint Research Centre (JRC) Science for Policy report helps to estimate the scale of platform work, outline the main characteristics of platform workers, their working conditions and motivations, and describes the type of services provided through digital employment platforms. It is based on a survey of over 32,000 people across 14 EU countries.
Platform workers in Europe (2018)
A public consultation on the regulatory environment for platforms, online intermediaries, data and cloud computing and the collaborative economy ran from 24 September 2015 to 6 January 2016. The full synopsis report (594kB) is available.
From 24 January to 14 March 2017, we consulted citizens providing accommodation for short-term rental via collaborative platforms in the EU to better understand the development of the collaborative economy and its main features in this sector. The report is available.
A series of external analytical papers contracted by the Commission shed light on some of the most relevant regulatory and economic aspects of the collaborative economy.
On 14 February 2017 the Commission launched a series of workshops for EU countries and stakeholders to present and discuss regulatory practices, focusing on collaborative short-term accommodation rental. Through this project the Commission, in partnership with competent authorities of EU countries and industry, wishes to translate the general guidance and policy recommendations into more concrete indications for the tourism accommodation sector. The aim is to promote best practice across the EU and fight market fragmentation in the Single Market.
As part of the Single Market Forum and in cooperation with local partners, the European Commission has been organising a series of stakeholder workshops on the collaborative economy in several European cities. The purpose of the workshops is to develop a deeper understanding of the collaborative economy and thus hear from the business community, local and national authorities, as well as civil society.
The discussions are held in participatory leadership style, which helps to identify the most innovative business models, reveal the challenges of the sharing economy, and debate the most appropriate forms of regulation.The findings of the workshops show that the collaborative economy is changing the market and a variety of new business models have been emerging in Europe. These findings informed the European agenda for the collaborative economy, whose impact will be explored in the upcoming workshops.
Many European entrepreneurs have adopted a collaborative business model. During the Single Market Forum workshops some of them described their businesses and ambitions.