To regular or not regulate the sharing economy within the EU?

Regulate or not? This is the question that EU lawmakers have to answer with respect to the sharing economy. The EU media platform Euractiv reports on the various opinions that were expressed on the topic during a public debate in Brno in the Czech Republic.

Luděk Niedermayer is a Czech member of the European Parliament representing the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP). At the debate in Brno he was clearly opposed to increased EU regulation.

“The European Commission says that it welcomes the sharing economy concept but recommends getting involved in these services. Analysis from individuals at the management level are clearly against regulation. In my opinion that’s the right approach,” said Niedermayer.

Kryštof Kruliš, an analyst at the Association for International Affairs (AMO) in Prague, did not agree. He would like an EU-wide definition of the sharing economy as well as basic rules that apply in individual European countries and that ultimately benefit the users.

“But it will not be easy to find common ground; the rules are different everywhere – from Berlin to Paris. The issue is if it would be worth the effort to define universal boundaries,” said Kruliš.

One concrete example of the definition, boundary and legislation problem that was highlighted in Brno is the home sharing and rental service Airbnb. Any EU regulation could have a significant impact on this service.

“If we want to have the same level of consumer protection and service from Airbnb as at a hotel, it could mean the end of this segment of the economy. The question is whether we think that the service should provide this level of service or if we accept that is it an entirely different concept and lower our expectations,” said Luděk Niedermayer.

The question of more EU regulation of the sharing economy is, in other words, certainly an open one at this time.