The collaborative or sharing economy can boost growth and development across Europe. This new business model is based on three main elements:

1. shared use of resources, beyond traditional forms of supply and exchange,

2. peer-to-peer relation or horizontal-dimension. Sharing economy is between people and organizations, without entering the logic producer/professional – consumer,

3. technological support of platforms, which enhance customers’ trust, building a sort of “digital reputation” for non-traditional operators providing goods and services within the web.

Even if the sharing economy is growing rapidly, it does not have a common regulation within the EU. This fragmented approach creates uncertainty for traditional operators, new services providers and consumers.

As announced in its Single Market Strategy, the Commission issued, on June 2nd, guidance to Member States to promote the balanced development of this new business model.

The guidelines A European Agenda for the collaborative economy provide information on how existing EU law should be applied to this new form of goods and services exchange. The most relevant points are:

1. Business authorisations or licenses must be used as a last measure, only where strictly necessary due to relevant public interest objectives. Sharing platforms should not be subjected to this regime if they only act as intermediaries,

2. Platforms can be exempted from being held liable for information they store on behalf of third subjects. They are held responsible for any services they themselves offer,

3. Member States should ensure high levels of protection from unfair commercial practices for customers, especially referring to unfair commercial practices,

4. Member States should simplify and clarify the application of tax rules to collaborative platforms.

Through the guidelines, the Commission invites Member States to review and where appropriate revise existing legislation on sharing economy.

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