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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.

An Airbnb advertisement

An Airbnb advertisement Photo: Airbnb PR THE SHARING / COLLABORATIVE / GIG / ACCESS-BASED ECONOMY Sometime in 2015, the European Commission started to use the phrase 'collaborative economy' instead of 'sharing economy'. In its June 2016 paper, A European Agenda concept as “business models where activities are facilitated by collaborative platforms that create an open marketplace for the temporary usage of goods or services often provided by private individuals”. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development describes the sharing economy as “new marketplaces that allow services to be provided on a peer-to-peer or shared usage basis”. The UK House of Commons has recently investigated what it called the “gig economy”, and the perceived problems related to it: “the hours, pay and conditions of workers in large online courier and cab services like Hermes, Deliveroo, Amazon and Uber”. The gig economy is arguably only the for- Arun Sundararajan, who wrote an analysis of the collaborative economy for the European Parliament's Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, prefers to speak of crowdbased capitalism. collaborative consumption and access-based consumption. However, many of the terms are used interchangeably. As recently as October 2016, the EU commissioner for the digital single market, Andrus Ansip, spoke of the sharing economy instead of the collaborative economy. A December 2016 commission press release used both names. In this magazine, we will speak mostly of the sharing economy, because this is the phrase that is most often and widely used by the general public. 04 — SHARING ECONOMY & EUROPE MAY 2017

For Airbnb, which allows its users to sell temporary accommodation, and Uber, which allows its users to sell rides, it is a gift from public relations heaven to be categorised as part of the sharing economy. connotation, more and more companies have started said a report by the European Commission's inhouse think tank, the Joint Research Centre (JRC). It allows them to pursue their core goal – making a beneath a thin veil of altruism. “Because sharing has a positive and progressive It noted that while many policymakers and media outlets – including this magazine – have a sense that the sharing economy is a trend worth watching, it is not clear that everyone is talking about the same thing. Photo: European Commission The JRC conducted an extensive literature review, which was published last year. The JRC called the sharing economy a “broad umbrella term” for which is worth, even though several reports have tried to do so. and inconclusive - in many cases, it is simply anecdotal and often presented by stakeholders in the current controversies,” the JRC said. The EU-funded scientists wrote that while Uber and Airbnb have released dozens of reports, the methodologies of the companies' research is impossible. “Available empirical evidence to date is very partial SHARING ECONOMY & EUROPE MAY 2017— 05

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