12 Nov 2020

Europe’s Collaborative Economy

Charting a constructive path forward

William Echikson / Jesse Goldberg

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Ride-hailing, home-sharing, meal-delivery, and other forms of digitally powered task-sharing are creating jobs and growth in Europe – and significant policy challenges. What should be the responsibilities of these new platforms, how should workers be classified, and how can insurers and others provide services to this new type of economic activity? Above all, what Europe-wide rules are required for the single market to work for the collaborative economy?

This new report provides some answers to these questions. It completes the work of a year-long Task Force that heard from corporate, union, employer and city representatives, along with leading academics.

Without reform, Europe risks falling behind in this new area of economic activity. Platforms, both European and non-European, face a labyrinth of local, often contradictory, rules. Their legal status as either internet society platforms or as transport or accommodation providers remains unclear. Most taxi and accommodation regulations date from the pre-internet era.

Task Force sessions concurred that the present regulations must be modernised. There remained significant differences of opinion about the proper balance between local and European rules. But all members agreed that platforms should take on new responsibilities to combat illegal activities, which can mean sharing information and data on their users with cities – provided privacy rules are respected. They agreed that sectoral rules need to be updated to create a level playing field between hotels and short-term private rentals, and taxi and ride-hailing drivers.  And while disagreements remained over the status of workers as independent contractors or employees, they agreed that workers should receive increased social protection.