Uber, AirBNB: Lay off 'em, EC tells member states

Absolute bans should only be last resort

Come over to my place, come on, we're having a party

The European Commission wants member countries to apply a light regulatory touch to “collaborative economy platforms” such as Uber and AirBnB and to ban as a last resort only.

The Commission thinks the new gig economy suppliers can make an important contribution to jobs and growth, if - our italics - they are “encouraged and developed in a responsible manner”. So in a guidance note issued today, it has called for a single agenda, in contrast with today’s patchwork of different regulatory actions at EU, national and local level.

This fragmentation creates uncertainty for all concerned - including traditional operators - and puts a crimp on innovation, job creation and growth, according to the Commission.

It wants member states to review regulation in light of the guidance and to support its key sentiment, namely that service providers should only be “obliged to obtain business authorisations or licenses where strictly necessary to meet relevant public interest objectives. Absolute bans of an activity should only be a measure of last resort.”

In a statement, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the commissioner in charge of the internal market and SMEs, said: “The collaborative economy is an opportunity for consumers, entrepreneurs and businesses – provided we get it right. If we allow our Single Market to be fragmented along national or even local lines, Europe as a whole risks losing out.”

Airbnb is pleased as punch with the Commission's enconium on the sharing economy, which is "making new experiences and economic opportunities available to countless regular people," Patrick Robinson, head of public policy for Airbnb in EMEA, said in response. "We know many rely on this additional income and are proud to have worked with cities, like London and Amsterdam, on progressive rules to support them. In some other cities, we see that complex, burdensome and disproportionate regulations often hit working people and families who need this income the most." ®

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