The collaborative (sharing) economy

Issue:
In 2016 the European Commission published non-binding guidance for Member States on how to approach the regulation of collaborative online platforms and services (the sharing economy). The advice addressed five areas: market access requirements; liability; when EU consumer protection law applies; the conditions under which an ‘employment relationship’ is considered to exist under EU law; and taxation.

Relevant policy:
Communication on a European agenda for the collaborative economy

The Communication is part of the Digital Single Market strategy.

Progress and developments:

In July 2016 the European Scrutiny Committee of the House of Commons was too blindsided by the referendum result to spend too much time on the sharing economy.

In December 2016 the Committee cleared the issue from further scrutiny. Their report noted:

On whether the Government will continue to actively engage with the Commission and other Member States on the Commission’s strategy on developing a collaborative economy pending Brexit, the Minister recites the Government’s well-rehearsed position that until exit negotiations are concluded, “the UK remains a full member of the European Union and all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force. During this period the Government will continue to negotiate and apply EU legislation.”

On whether the Government considers cross-border coordination in the regulation of the collaborative economy a policy priority and would wish for this to continue regardless of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, the Minister notes that “it is appropriate that collaborative economy regulation is decided at national or regional/local level, in line with EU law”, and that “UK businesses and consumers trading in the EU could be affected if guidance or enforcement has an impact”, which is “especially relevant for tourism, e.g. Airbnb”.