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23 Nov 2017

An overview of European Platforms

Scope and Business Models

Brian Fabo / Miroslav Beblavy / Zachary Kilhoffer / Karolien Lenaerts

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The platform economy has become an important consideration within the European Commission’s Digital Economy agenda. By mapping the platform economy within the 28 European Union (EU) Member States, this report draws on a database of 200 service platforms active in Europe, and aims to serve as a resource for the development of a European policy response. It identifies a huge diversity of platforms within the EU in terms of size, geographical scope, services offered and business models. Further, the innovative potential of platforms is confirmed, notably the way in which they employ technology to facilitate socially beneficial activities, such as volunteering or ridesharing. At the same time, we note the tendency of a number of platforms to withhold information about their functioning. There are also inconsistencies in the treatment of service providers, whose autonomy in organising their work is quite limited even though their status is almost universally that of independent contractors, which raises questions about the protection of workers. The European platform environment comprises both domestic and international actors, with the latter usually being the market leaders. These platforms often operate across national boundaries, strengthening the case for EU-level intervention.

This publication is a Science for Policy report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service. It aims to provide evidence-based scientific support to the European policymaking process. The scientific output expressed does not imply a policy position of the European Commission. Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission is responsible for the use that might be made of this publication.

Originally published on the Publications Office of the European Union website.