31 May 2017: Policy in the Collaborative Economy: One Year On from the EC Communication

On 31 May EUCoLab will gather companies, policy makers and interest groups, to review the current and future policy landscape of the collaborative economy in Europe. One year on from the European Commission Communication  ‘A European agenda for the collaborative economy‘, we will look at best practice and existing challenges in the key areas of; market access requirements, liability regimes, protection of users, self-employed and workers, and taxation.

This event is followed by a cocktail reception to celebrate the publication and launch of EUCoLab’s reference book of Best Practice in the Collaborative Economy. For more information, please email morgaine@eucolab.org.

Recent activity

In September 2016, EUCoLab brought together senior policymakers with over 20 leading Founders, CEO’s and senior experts in the European collaborative economy industry. Roundtables provide a neutral space to come together to explore the current and future European policy and regulatory landscape.

Vice President Katainen participated and provided an introductory address. The roundtables covered issues such as how policymakers might harness the economic, societal and environmental benefits of the sector, how to support the growth of European platforms and ensure consumers are empowered and confident in engaging in these new services.

To download the Roundtable reports, click here.

This roundtable series was sponsored by Zurich Insurance Group. EUCOLAB sponsored by zurich

To join us or to find out more, please email us at contact@eucolab.org.

EUCOLAB Website image world with goods etc

Previous Roundtables

We work extensively to bring industry and policymakers together and have held a series of roundtables to further dialogue. To date, we have held Roundtables on:
Roundtable 1: The Consumer in a new trust-based collaborative economy – October 2015

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Discussions focused on policy areas affecting trust in the network and the potential of trust to contribute to an improved alternative regulatory framework for the benefit of consumers. Key findings include:

  • Collaborative economy verification and reputation services are creating innovative tools for consumers to be protected: providing an immediate and nuanced assessment, directly based on performance.
  • There is a clear demand from consumers to be able to identify themselves online in a way which shifts away from traditional methods. Regulations need to be able to support these new requirements.
  • Platforms  and  verification  service  providers  operate  in  accordance  with  European  and Member State legislation. As a point of best practice, however, there may be a role for industry in better explaining how data protection works in these markets and how this fits within the data protection framework. In particular, this includes how data is used, how verification services score reliability, the extent to which users have control over their data, rights to amendment or deletion and the role of data portability.

To download the roundtable report, click here.

Roundtable 2: The role of participants within the network  – October 2015

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Discussions focused on barriers affecting participation in the platform; and options for policymakers to open up the collaborative economy and ensure a fair relationship between consumers, platforms and participants. Key findings include:

  • The collaborative economy expands the opportunities for self-employment, and there is a clear role for policymakers in supporting this. It was agreed that platforms are creating opportunities for flexible employment and offer a real opportunity to tackle under and unemployment. Policymakers confirmed the importance of embracing and supporting these new models and it was agreed that this was an area where policymakers and industry should work together.
  • The question of when an individual operating in the collaborative economy becomes a business is a key challenge to be addressed. The concept of an EU wide threshold to determine when participants should be categorised as private individuals supplementing their income and when they should be considered professional business enterprises was discussed; and consultation with industry should be undertaken when determining how this would work in practice.
  • Specific legal status’ have been created across Europe to support the development of participation in the collaborative economy and it was agreed that there was an important role for policymakers to support individuals who wish to offer their services on these platforms. Policymakers are encouraged to look to Member States for examples of best practice.
  • It is crucial that policymakers help to ensure that participants are able to comply with their obligations. This involves exploring simpler tax reporting and working with platforms encourage them to build-in the ability for participants to report into their systems. This should be seen as an opportunity rather than threat. The role of platforms in making it easier for participants to submit their tax information should be considered by policymakers and such examples of best practice should be monitored.

To download the roundtable report, click here.

Roundtable 3: The Platform – January 2016

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Discussions focused on policy barriers to businesses scaling up, what the policymakers can do to better to support growth of platforms in Europe and how to resolve the challenge between nurturing innovative platforms and supporting traditional industry. Key findings include:

  • The difference between platforms – defined as online intermediation platforms supporting  services  –  and  traditional  services,  necessitates  a  differentiated  approach  to regulation. It was widely agreed that interpreting existing regulations is a key part of the solution to ensuring  a  level  playing  field  between  collaborative  economy  platforms  and  traditional players.
  • Industry participants agreed that it was beneficial to review directives such as the Services, E-Commerce and Distance Selling Directives to understand how existing regulations might be interpreted and whether they might be subsequently adapted.
  • When reviewing the current framework in place to support services, priority should be placed on ensuring that rules and restrictions should be justified, proportionate and serve the public interest. Rules which restrict the market and do not serve consumers should be challenged through the review of existing Directives. It was also felt that regulations should be proportionate to the scale of operations and activity level.
  • It was agreed that more guidance and better information on the application of existing rules would be more beneficial than the creation of additional rules. The importance of industry working with policymakers to provide the evidence in order to properly understand how existing regulatory frameworks might apply to collaborative economy platforms was discussed.
  • Policymakers underlined the difficulties in gathering evidence – most collaborative economy players are currently small and not captured by traditional statistical methods. Although there is much anecdotal evidence, numerical evidence is not widely available and precludes policymaking tailored for the collaborative economy. Industry participants and policymakers were in agreement on the need to come together to supply the evidence and examples of good practice across Member States needed by policymakers.

To download the roundtable report, click here.

EUCoLab Letters & Statements

Below is an overview of the letters and statements made by EUCoLab to date:

September 2016, letter to Slovak Minister for the Economy, Peter Ziga, (Chairman of the Competitiveness Council of the European Union)

Industry letter ahead of the European Competitiveness Council, click here.

June 2016, open letter to Commissioner Bienkowska (European Commission)
Industry letter welcoming the European Commission’s agenda to support the development of the collaborative economy in Europe, click here.
February 2016, open letter to Prime Minister Rutte (The Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the European Union)
Industry letter ahead of the European Competitiveness Council, click here.
May 2015, open letter to Vice President Ansip (European Commission)

Industry response to the launch of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy, click here.