EU set to advise against bans on companies like Uber, Airbnb

EU countries should ban companies in the sharing economy only as "a measure of last resort," the bloc's executive is set to recommend on Wednesday, as firms like Uber and Airbnb struggle to win over regulators in Europe.

The Uber car-sharing service has run into legal trouble in several European countries amid opposition from established transport firms, while the Airbnb service for room and apartment rentals has been restricted in countries such as Germany and Belgium.

"Evidence shows that member states are adopting very different policies on the collaborative economy, which causes regulatory fragmentation that makes the EU less attractive for innovation and investment," the European Commission wrote in a communication it is due to unveil on Wednesday, a copy of which was seen by dpa.

The document seeks to level the playing field by setting out how EU rules apply to the still relatively new collaborative economy.

The guidelines are aimed at national authorities, market operators and interested citizens to "encourage the balanced development of the collaborative economy," the commission said.

The 20-page document contains a laundry list of policy recommendations, including the guidance that "total bans of an activity constitute a measure of last resort that should be applied only if and where no less restrictive requirements to attain a public interest can be used."

It specifically mentions the banning of short-term apartment rentals as a negative example. The German capital Berlin for instance this year introduced new rules that allow the renting out of a spare bedroom, but not of entire holiday apartments to tourists.

The commission will suggest that a cap on how much a home is rented out would be a better approach.

"Banning short-term letting of apartments appears difficult to justify when the rental use of houses can be limited to a number of maximum dates per year to allow citizens to share their real estate on an occasional basis," its communication says.

The new recommendations apply only to activities that involve remuneration, not collaborative economy services that are offered for free. The commission said that it will use the guidelines to ensure that "existing EU law is applied by member states."

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49
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