to take part in the emerging EU-level debate on this issue and position the CoR as an important player with regards to other institutions
to highlight the views and concerns of LRAs with regards to this phenomenon
to underline that the sharing economy is much more than the big commercial platforms known by everyone
This opinion by the Committee of the Regions was the first important document focused solely on the sharing/collaborative economy by an EU body. Thanks to this, it has placed the CoR and the rapporteur, Benedetta Brighenti, in a key influential position with regards to the emerging European-level debate on this topic.
This is clearly demonstrated by the many invitations to debates and conferences which the rapporteur has received and by the media coverage gathered by the opinion. In 2015 and 2016, the rapporteur took part in more than a dozen conferences, debates and events on the sharing or collaborative economy in several different countries. She also performed several video interviews, and her work and opinion were mentioned in local and regional media, as well as major national newspapers in two different countries.
While this was only an emerging policy field at the beginning of the CoR work on the topic, it has gained in importance and has become a very topical and controversial subject of debate at the EU level and in many Member States. While concrete policy developments are still in their early stages, they are so far very much in line with the CoR opinion's key recommendations, such as the Commission's intention, stated in its Communication "Upgrading the single market" (COM(2015) 550 final), to develop a European agenda for the collaborative (or sharing) economy.
This intention was put into practice with the Commission's presentation on 2 June 2016 of a Communication entitled "A European agenda for the collaborative economy". The document aims to provide (non-legally binding) guidance on how existing EU law – such as the Services Directive or E-commerce Directive – applies to collaborative economy business models. (Benedetta Brighenti was also appointed rapporteur, on this Communication, during the ECON Commission meeting of 20 June 2016.)
In the many exchanges having taken place since the publication of the guidance, both the European Commission and European Parliament have been very receptive to the CoR on the topic, and have acknowledged the strong territorial dimension of the issue. On this basis, concrete outcomes of the CoR's work on the topic are expected to be found in particular in the Parliament report on the collaborative economy whose rapporteur is Mr Nicola Danti. The CoR and its rapporteur are also in close contact with the European Commission regarding possible follow-up measures to the June 2016 communication.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- notes that the European Commission uses the term "collaborative economy" rather than "sharing economy" and has made a first effort in its recent Communication on "Upgrading the Single Market" to define the concept. In the view of the CoR however, the proposed definition focuses on the commercial and consumer aspects of the sharing (or collaborative) economy while leaving aside the non-commercial and commons-based approaches. Calls therefore on the European Commission to further analyse and later define the different forms of the sharing economy;
- believes that EU sectoral regulation is necessary for the commercial aspects of the sharing economy to ensure legal certainty and fair competition for operators, especially with respect to taxation;
- considers that any hard regulatory initiative should keep a sectoral approach and take into account the scale of the SE initiative as a criterion to draw regulatory lines. EU institutions and legislation should provide a sound framework, institutional and legal guidance and ongoing access to expertise and other assistance appropriate for implementation;
- calls, however, on all EU institutions dealing with the issue of the SE to adopt a holistic approach in addressing the SE as an economic, political and social phenomenon and to coordinate their efforts, in view of the widespread changes the SE could cause to current economic systems, through a comprehensive public policy drawing up an SE public policy agenda built collaboratively;
- considers that many of the sectors touched by SE have a sometimes disruptive impact at the local and regional level and that it should therefore be possible for them to be governed or regulated as necessary by local and regional authorities (LRAs) in compliance with the principle of local autonomy in order to allow LRAs to adapt SE initiatives and ventures to local conditions.