EU Commission publishes Communication on the “Collaborative Economy”
on the “Collaborative Economy”
On 2 June 2016, the Commission published a Communication on the “agenda for the collaborative economy”, COM(2016) 356 final. The Commission attempts to explain what this is as follows: “The term "collaborative economy" refers to 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.” There are three parties involved: service providers, users and electronic platforms. Service providers can be professionals acting on a commercial basis, individuals offering services on an occasional basis (peer-to-peer) or those offering services on a not-for-profit basis.
Given the very broad definition of the “collaborative economy”, it is not surprising that the volume of business is anything but inconsequential. It is estimated that it was worth 28 billion euros in 2015; however, the Commission predicts that this could grow to more than 500 billion euros. This explains the increase in interest from both the Member States and the European Commission.
But what do these new forms of economic exchange mean for the social security of those involved? The Communication does not expressly address this. However, there are some initial indications of what this might mean.
The Communication firstly places the collaborative economy in the general economic/regulatory context. Essentially, in the Commission this is about “market access requirements” of the Member States for collaborative platforms, particularly in terms of competition protection, consumer protection and health protection, as well as combating tax evasion. The Commission believes that it is necessary to ensure that the requirements do not constitute unfair or inappropriate market access barriers.