European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions
Together for decent work and fair pay from farm to fork

Commission Communication for the collaborative economy does not give the expected legal guidance


Brussels, 10 June 2016 – On 2 June 2016, the Commission published its long-awaited Communication “A European agenda for the collaborative economy”, which was announced to give guidance to Member States on how to apply existing EU legislation on the collaborative economy.

The overall Commission assessment of the “collaborative” or “sharing” economy (such as short-term rental of accommodation or private passenger transport) is positive, these new business models are seen to “promote new employment opportunities, flexible working arrangements and new sources of income” “by enabling individual citizens to offer services”, the benefits for consumers are “new services, an extended supply, and lower prices”. However, the Communication also concedes that the collaborative economy has issues with “the application of existing legal frameworks, blurring established lines between consumer and provider, employee and self-employed, or the professional and non-professional provision of services.

“We regret that the Commission, instead of giving clear guidance on how to find Europe-wide solutions for these problems, and to ensure a level-playing field and fair competition, it plays the ball back into the field of Member States and collaborative platforms, and calls for lowering standards, self-regulation and voluntary action” stated Kerstin Howald, EFFAT Tourism Sector Secretary.

Member States are e.g. advised to:

  • with regard to employment: “assess the adequacy of their national employment rules considering the different needs of workers and self-employed people in the digital world as well as the innovative nature of collaborative business models”
  • with regard to market access requirements: “take the opportunity to review, simplify and modernise market access requirements that are generally applicable to market operators"
  • with regard to taxation: “assess their tax rules to create a level playing field for businesses providing the same service”

And collaborative platforms are called upon to:

  • with regard to liability schemes: “continue taking voluntary action to fight illegal content online and to increase trust” by using “rating and reputational systems … to discourage harmful behaviour by market participants” in order to “reduce the need for certain elements of regulation
  • with regard to taxation: “take a proactive stance in cooperating with national tax authorities to establish the parameters for an exchange of information about tax obligations

“EFFAT welcomes the Commission’s intention to establish a monitoring framework for the collaborative economy. But in addition to periodic surveys on consumers and businesses and to the mapping of regulatory developments, coherent data need to be collected on the impact of the collaborative economy on employment, i.e. how many and what kind of jobs are created by these new business models, and what is their impact on existing jobs in the sectors they are operating in, such as traditional accommodation and transport services” concludes Kerstin Howald.

For more information:

Kerstin Howald
Tourism Political Secretary
+32 2 20 96 264


EFFAT is the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions. As a European Trade Union Federation representing 120 national trade unions from 35 European countries, EFFAT defends the interests of more than 22 million workers towards the European Institutions, European employers’ associations and transnational companies. EFFAT is a member of the ETUC and the European regional organisation of the IUF.