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25th Jun 2017

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Unleashing the sharing economy

  • While the US and China have embraced the sharing economy, the EU seems to still be making up its mind. (Photo: Nucleo)

The size of the sharing economy doubled between 2014 and 2015, according to the European Commission. Along with it are new business models that EU legislation has yet to keep up with.

The EU has been slow to react and the response so far has been fragmented.

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On 19 October, MEPs from the ALDE Group - Fredrick Federley, Dita Charanzova, Kaja Kallas and Dominique Riquet - hosted a seminar in the European Parliament that offered insight from opinion leaders, entrepreneurs, policy makers and politicians about the growth opportunities that exist in the dynamic and rapidly evolving sector.

In support of the sharing economy, European Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen said it was "an opportunity to increase productivity, increase the number of jobs, increase the quality of the services".

"If there are problems with new business models, let's solve the problems instead of killing the whole business model," Katainen adds.

While the US and China have embraced the sharing economy - with US services like Uber and Airbnb now penetrating European markets and China's sharing economy expected to be worth 10 percent of its total GDP by 2020 - the EU seems to still be making up its mind.

"We need a cool head and to be reasonable because the economy is changing and either it does that with the consent of politics or does it outside politics,” said MEP Federley.

“And either we decide that Europe wants to be on board or we decide that the Americans and the Chinese can take all the advantages of creating these services."

Advocates of the sharing economy argue that it provides easy access to a wide range of services that are often of higher quality and more affordable than those provided by traditional business set-ups.

Critics, on the other hand, claim that the sharing economy provides unfair competition reduces job security, avoids taxes and poses a threat to safety, health and disability compliance standards.

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