Wednesday

23rd May 2018

Magazine

How Europe manages the sharing economy

  • Smartphones have made it easy for the sharing economy to take off. (Photo: CAFNR)

Like me, you have probably seen Europe's cities change in the past few years.

Bike couriers in Strasbourg that no longer work for a single pizza delivery shop, but instead are traversing the streets with hot meals from an array of different restaurants.

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  • The 2017 edition of EUobserver's Business in Europe magazine takes a closer look at the sharing economy. (Photo: EUobserver)

Tourists dragging their trolley suitcases through the residential streets of Amsterdam, clearly staying at someone's apartment instead of a hotel.

Or the counter-reaction: protests in Brussels by taxi drivers who feel they cannot compete with people offering the same or similar service, but who are able to circumvent regulation and save money by driving without the need for a taxi permit.

This phenomenon of ordinary citizens offering services or goods through an online platform has become known in everyday parlance as the "sharing economy".

Not everyone agrees on the definition of the "sharing economy", as I explain in another article in this magazine, or even what to call this development.

For instance, EU lawmakers prefer to speak of the "collaborative economy", while others refer to the "gig" or "access-based" economy.

Whatever you decide to call it, the trend is here.

Sharing via the internet is not new, as Eszter Zalan explains in her article about the sharing pioneers who were never interested in profit-making.

But Jean Comte and Dave Keating will tell you that the meteoric rise of for-profit platforms has kept courts busy, while Lisbeth Kirk delves into how the sharing economy can be taxed.

Finally, Nikolaj Nielsen takes us into the future, where new technologies may make current platforms obsolete, the same way they are challenging traditional businesses.

I am very happy to share these thought-provoking stories with you.

This story was originally published in EUobserver's 2017 Business in Europe Magazine.

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