The European Commission has indicated that it is drawing up guidelines on how the EU deals with 'sharing economy' companies such as Uber and Airbnb. These are likely to be published in 2016 and will provide information on how member states should regulate these industries.
European internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska said she would like to see a single approach to the shared economy, noting that, "the situation for now is that in one member state, the UK for example, they are legal, in others they are illegal."
Jyrki Katainen, Commission Vice-President for growth and jobs, described the sharing economy as "a relatively new phenomenon." He added that "there tends to be a basic instinct to kill new business models in favour of traditional ways of doing things, which is not necessarily always a good thing."
The Commission does not intend any new legislation at this point, preferring to provide guidance to member states on how current laws should be applied. They will also examine whether current regulations are sufficient. Commissioner Bieńkowska noted, however, that the guidelines "will also assess whether there are regulatory gaps and how they need to be addressed without favouring one business model over another."
Such a clarification would provide a boost for some of the sharing economy's operators. In a number of countries, including Belgium, France and Germany, the UberPOP car service has been outlawed.