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How Europe manages the sharing economy

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EUobserver's 2017 edition of its Business in Europe magazine takes a closer look at the the sharing economy.

for a platform to “get

for a platform to “get the discussion going in Brussels” on the sharing economy. The forum chose the name European Collaborative Economy Forum instead of European Sharing Economy Forum, because the European Commission has adopted that phrase. “We decided that, since our audience was Brussels, Brussels was using,” said Delany, accepting that sharing economy was “more common parlance”. “We started off with the European Collaborative Economy Forum [in 2015] as a place for discussion between members, with policymakers, to discuss the current and future policy landscape. So no lobbying, no position papers, no agreed views, it was actually all about, well, how do we amongst us consider the collaborative economy,” he said. Uber and Airbnb are among its founding members, but the association also has in its ranks companies space (Seats2Meet), and car-sharing (SnappCar). Photo: European Commission NO WILD WEST GUYS Delany also saw a task in “educating” policymakers, because there were “some common misconceptions” about the collaborative economy. This year, the association will move into “a little bit more of an advocacy role”, said Delany. He added that the forum has been speaking to members of the European Parliament about the collaborative economy, drafted by centre-left Italian for an interview. “These guys are accused of being in the Wild thing, but the reality is that the general construct of business regulation applies to sharing or collaborative economy companies as much as it does to anybody else,” Delany said. Photo: European Commission 30 — SHARING ECONOMY & EUROPE MAY 2017

Photo: European Commission “We are already part of economy. The laws that apply there still apply,” he added. “We just have to look at: how do we re-interpret and consider these companies now that the scale of this operation has changed and it's become a competitor to traditional services.” “The problems about a shifting European work force, potential contributions to social security, those concerning issues, are actually part of a very large collaborative economy,” he argued. Several companies that see themselves as part of the collaborative economy have gone to court to challenge local bans. “We're not calling for new regulation to particularly suit the collaborative economy,” said Delany. “What we are asking for is existing European legislation to be applied correctly,” he noted, adding that some local laws that were adopted in response to the sharing economy were protectionist, and created “unnatural barriers” to enter the market. THE SOLUTION Delany also opposed the idea that sharing economy companies are responsible for a trend towards more self-employment. Instead, driving for Uber or renting out a room through Airbnb can help people make some extra money, the lobbyist noted. “We see the collaborative economy as a solution for many people who are underworked, out of work. It's a way back into the work force.” Delany said that over the past few years, he has seen EU policymakers becoming less concerned and more open to the sharing economy. “I think they have changed their views from being somewhat sceptical and mistrusting, to being welcoming and optimistic in general.”

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