While welcoming the publication of the European Commission guidance on the collaborative economy the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) sees a strong focus on big businesses critically and calls for a reflection on how to support smaller initiatives at local and regional level.
The collaborative economy, which is based on providing services on a people-to-people model, has emerged as a billion Euro business model being differently regulated in EU Member States and cities. On 2 June the European Commission presented a "European agenda for the collaborative economy" as guidance on how to apply EU law in this field. The CoR welcomes that a legal framework is now set up for the collaborative economy at EU level but deplores a too less focus on the specific issues of smaller and socially focused initiatives.
"The collaborative economy is not just about multinational companies. It can help to improve quality of life, foster growth and reduce environmental impact which is greatly in the interests of local and regional authorities. There is huge potential for cities and regions in the field of the circular and social economy but there is not enough mention in the guidelines of how to deal with or better support these kinds of initiatives", said Benedetta Brighenti (IT/PES), CoR rapporteur for the collaborative economy and deputy mayor of the municipality of Castelnuovo Rangone.
The CoR further points out that the European Commission's guidance cannot be the end of the work on the collaborative economy at EU level. As the phenomenon develops and grows, further efforts will be needed to diminish uncertainty and prevent regulatory fragmentation between the different national or local rules that could harm the single market. Support is needed for cities and regions since they are on the frontline when it comes to dealing with emerging problems such as struggling traditional providers, lack of housing and shrinking city budgets and tax revenues.
"We need a stronger EU response or local and regional authorities will have to take action alone which will lead to even more regulatory fragmentation. We also need the response to include a local and regional dimension. The collaborative economy is a very good example of why the EU Urban Agenda and the Pact of Amsterdam - only signed a few days ago - need to be implemented so that we can make better harness the potential of the collaborative economy for territorial cohesion, urban inclusion or, for example sustainable tourism and transport", said Benedetta Brighenti.
Discussions with city representatives during a recent CoR expert workshop showed that further research and analysis are needed, in particular at urban level, before establishing binding or non-binding measures. An opinion focusing on the local and regional dimension of the sharing economy has already been adopted by the members of the CoR in December 2015.