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 of June 2016, 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.
On 11 October 2018, the Commission organised the high-level conference, 'Collaborative economy: opportunities, challenges, policies' in Brussels to take stock of policy, regulatory and market developments since the adoption of the Communication on the collaborative economy in June 2016. Over 250 participants from public authorities, stakeholders and academia discussed opportunities created by the collaborative economy, challenges associated with its development and policy solutions. On the occasion of the conference, the Commission published the results of a new Eurobarometer survey (see below) indicating that 1 in 4 EU citizens have used services offered via collaborative platforms and 1 in 5 say they either have offered such services or can imagine doing so.
In December 2020 and January 2021, the Commission organised three workshops with EU cities (Dublin, Lisbon and Valencia) to present and discuss regulatory practices, focusing on collaborative short-term accommodation rentals. This followed a series of workshops for EU countries and stakeholders launched by the Commission in 2017. Through this project the Commission, in partnership with competent authorities of EU countries and industry, wished to translate the general guidance and policy recommendations into more concrete indications for the tourism accommodation sector. The aim was to promote best practice across the EU and fight market fragmentation in the Single Market. The workshop series was closed with a concluding debate at the conference that took place in October 2018 (see above).
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 findings of the workshops show that the collaborative economy is changing the market and a variety of new business models are emerging in Europe.
In April 2018, the European Commission carried out a flash survey to identify citizens' perceptions, attitudes and practices in relation to the collaborative economy. The results of the survey and a flyer on the flash Eurobarometer survey – collaborative economy are available. This 2018 survey complements a previous Eurobarometer survey on the use of collaborative platforms that was carried out in 2016.
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.