What A Wonderful New World: The Sharing Economy


The European Commission has just issued a communication on “A European agenda for the collaborative economy” (02.06.2016). The Commission considers this term ‘collaborative economy’ as interchangeable with the term ‘sharing economy’. It will, according to them, create fantastic new opportunities and in particular new employment opportunities. This economy is growing rapidly and therefore the Commission aims to provide legal guidance and policy orientation. It puts on the glasses of the service providers and states that the key question is whether collaborative platforms and service providers can be “subject to market access requirements”. Under this logic, “absolute bans and quantitative restrictions” are not really welcomed but only as a “measure of last resort” – last resort for what is not defined.

The Commission focuses on the question of how to differentiate between professional and non-professional providers who operate on an occasional basis. The first conclusion of this description is far reaching: Member States can only impose regulatory requirements “under limited circumstances and subject to a specific procedure”. This procedure considers the level of control or influence exerted by the platform as crucial. The criteria to be taken into account are a) the price – does the platform set the price? b) terms and conditions – are the terms and conditions mandatory, c) ownership of key assets – does the platform own the assets? And, only if all three criteria are met, can the Member states intervene.

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