European Commission members in defense of Uber and AirBNB as Sharing Economy companies
Two European commissioners on Wednesday came to the defense of Uber and other “sharing economy” companies, casting their foes as counterproductive and backward-looking
“Maybe it’s a stupid comparison, but it’s like fighting with print in medieval times,” said Elzbieta Bienkowska, the commissioner for industry and the internal market.
“It’s not a problem, it’s just a new business model.”
Jyrki Katainen, a commission vice-president, said the struggle with Uber — which has resulted in the San Francisco-based business’s UberPop service being banned in cities across Europe — raised questions over whether some national rules were still fit for purpose in the digital age, comparing it to an attempt by horse riders to ban cars.
“The sharing economy is a growing economy it will offer a huge amount of new jobs and investment,’’ Mr Katainen said. “We should have a common policy on this.’’
Uber was confronted to violent protests by taxi drivers across Europe its services are limited or banned in Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy so the company is turning to the EU Commission for potential favorable regulation.
Uber is also awaiting a ruling from the European Court of Justice as to whether it should be treated as a transportcompany and regulated at national level, or a digital service, which would be harder — and potentially illegal — for national authorities to ban due to EU rules.
Meanwhile, with its apparent embrace of the sharing economy, the commission appears eager to shake off accusations of Ludditism following several high-profile competition cases against big US technology companies, including Amazon and Google.
The commission is planning to publish guidance by early next year on the position and rights of sharing economy firms under existing EU rules, and also to seek talks among national ministers on how to shift to a situation where such companies are regulated more normally.
The key tenets of the commission’s approach will be that innovative services, such as Uber and Airbnb — a service that allows people to rent rooms — should “act fairly” by respecting existing consumer protection rules and be brought fully into the tax system, said Ms Bienkowska.
In fact the taxation issue is the most important one in the field for two reason. The first is the one related to the social disruption that these businesses are generating in terms of working rights and employment the second is the cost dimension once these services adjust as businesses on the society level. Would they still be as seductive once proper taxation is applied to their business model?
Sharing Economy and Collaborative commons is a serious issue aiming at fostering society ties and rules. Social disruptions can not just be called backwardness and the only way to move forward is in fact regulation at the European level for a fair, gradual and sustainable in societal terms new model of creating and sharing values.