Consumers feel the Uber effect as sharing economy flourishes

Ireland, France top poll for use of collaborative economy

When it comes to the collaborative economy, Irish people are among the top students in the EU, a new poll has shown.

AirBnB, Uber and other services have helped pioneer a fast-growing peer-to-peer marketplace, where everything from dry cleaning to home cleaning can be done collaboratively.

The study was carried out by the European Commission, which found the Republic was only second to France for use of the collaborative economy, and even then, not by much. More than a third - 36 per cent in France and 35 per cent in Ireland - had used the platforms.

The collaborative economy involves shared access to goods or services through peers, typically with an online platform such as Airbnb co-ordinating the marketplace.


"Fighting against the collaborative economy is like fighting the printing press. It's here to stay and will only become more important," said internal market commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska.


The commission has presented guidance aimed at developing the collaborative economy, which is currently subject to what it referred to as “a patchwork” of regulatory actions, and supporting consumers, businesses and public authorities involved in it.

Responsible development could help the sector make an important contribution to jobs and growth in the European Union, the commission said, but getting it wrong could lead to Europe missing out.

"A competitive European economy requires innovation, be it in the area of products or services. Europe's next unicorn could stem from the collaborative economy," said commission vice-president Jyrki Katainen.

“Our role is to encourage a regulatory environment that allows new business models to develop while protecting consumers and ensuring fair taxation and employment conditions.”


The guidance advises how existing EU law should be applied to the collaborative economy, making recommendations such as the obligation to purchase business authorisations or licences only where strictly necessary; avoiding absolute bans of an activity unless it is as a last resort; and differentiating between individual citizens providing services on an occasional basis and providers acting in a professional capacity.

It also deals with protecting consumers under EU law, the tax rules that apply and labour laws.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist