The sharing economy in Europe

The sharing economy has changed and is now split between traditional and commercial models.

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The sharing economy has moved on from the early days.  While some apps and services continue to focus on collaborative consumption or experiential connections without being commercial, other have evolved into successful money-making businesses. Some researchers now focus on the 'real' and 'fake' sharing economy. For many, sharing has become renting.

The sharing economy and the law in Europe

Airbnb has 150 million users, and is valued at over $20 billion USD.  Uber is valued at $60 billion USD.

These companies are no longer struggling to prove their commercial viability. Now they are battling in the courts to validate their status.

  • In 2017, electronic hitchhiking app BlaBlaCar was taken to court in Spain by the Spanish confederation for bus transport for operating an illegal transport service. The court found in favour of the ridesharing app. The app does not exist to deliver a profit to its drivers. 
  • The mayor of Berlin believes the growth of Airbnb in his city was responsible for driving up rents. Berlin has now banned short stay holiday apartments although there haven't been any significant enforcements yet. There are dozens of court challenges pending in Germany.
  • Is Uber a cross-border information service or as a local taxi service? The European Court of Justice is yet to deliver a ruling.   Spain's taxi drivers went on strike in May 2017 to protest against unfair competition from companies such as Uber and Cabify. 

The non-financial benefits of sharing

For the 'real' sharers, non-commercial sharing can deliver positive social impacts; unexpected social connections; improved communities.  You can read more about traditional sharing here.

Would you rent a grandparent?

In France, the app Lou Papé allows users to 'rent' older people to cook for them, or share their culinary skills. The app seeks to reduce elder isolation and to improve the transfer of traditional skills.

Sources: EU Observer; The Memo; Which Conversation; EU Observer