EU recommends green light for sharing economy

The European Commission has spoken out against putting the sharing economy at a disadvantage. In new guidelines it urged member states to give companies like Uber and AirBnB which compete with traditional businesses a chance and not curtail their activities with restrictive laws. How will the sharing economy affect Europe's economy?

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Club Z (BG) /

Sharing economy can give us more freedom

Services like Uber can revolutionise more than just the relationship between service providers and customers, Club Z writes enthusiastically:

“Have we actually grasped the social significance of the sharing economy and how it could change our societies? … Uber is an app that brings the users and providers of transportation services together and makes them independent of taxi companies. … There are similar apps for sharing your flat, thus making hotels superfluous, for sharing meals, thus making restaurants superfluous, and for sharing energy or heat and taking away customers from energy companies. … If we can overcome the old dependencies we have had to rely on so far to satisfy our basic needs, perhaps at some stage we can become new people.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Consumers benefit from competition

The EU Commissioner for Internal Market Elżbieta Bieńkowska said on Thursday in Brussels that the sharing economy is popular with consumers because it often offers better and cheaper services than traditional service providers. Rzeczpospolita agrees:

“Above all the pressure from the customers was crucial. Because such companies normally only enter markets where the prices are high. In New York, for instance, the taxi fares have gone down by 30 percent within just a few years. These companies give amateurs who want to earn a little on the side work - for example pensioners. Naturally they are destroying the big firms and taking work away from those employed there. But at the same time they're giving other people jobs. … It would be better to bring these companies to heel rather than continue tilting at windmills. The fact that the officials in Brussels who are otherwise so fond of regulations are slowly beginning to change their views on this is also a hopeful sign.”

Jornal de Negócios (PT) /

Uber must stick to the rules too

For some time now taxi drivers in Portugal have been protesting against the competition from transportation network Uber, which offers rides with private individuals who don't have taxi licenses. Economist Jorge Fonseca de Almeida calls in Jornal de Negócios for the same criteria to apply for all service providers:

“The protests staged by the Portuguese taxi drivers to defend their trade and market share are commendable - and if Uber really wants to be an active market player the online transportation service must also adhere to the rules of the local market. In a state governed by the rule of law it is simply not acceptable for some competitors, even if they happen to be powerful US companies, to be active beyond the boundaries of the current laws and regulations.”