This own-initiative opinion aims to influence the EU-level debate in the field of the collaborative economy, and put forward building blocks of a European framework for the collaborative economy. A number of the crucial elements and concerns it highlights are expected to be tackled by the European Commission at the end of 2020 when it will present a proposal for a Digital Services Act (DSA). The impact of the CoR opinion is already evidenced in different ways:
A key development with regards to this file came on 19 December 2019 when the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of short-term rental platform Airbnb, in the case against the French Association for professional housing and tourism (AhTop), representing hotels, travel agencies, and trade unions. The Court decided that the platform only acted as an intermediary, unlike in a previous ruling concerning the other collaborative platform giant: Uber. The CoR opinion demands that EU legislation be updated to clarify the status of platforms. Media coverage of the Court decision was extensive and many articles referred to the CoR opinion and the views of major European cities, including for instance Politico (link) or Le Point (link).
In early 2020, after the adoption of the opinion, the CoR was invited (at administrative level) to take part in the Task Force on the Collaborative Economy set up by the well-known think tank CEPS. This CEPS Task Force brings together various stakeholders to debate how best to move forward in this challenging field, including some suggestions on specific regulatory proposals that could be considered for the Collaborative Economy sector such as the DSA. On 9 June 2020 for the final meeting of the task force, the CoR rapporteur's expert, Klemens Himpele, (Head of the Department for Economy, Labour and Statistics, for the City of Vienna) was invited to give a presentation to task force members. He presented the perspective and concerns of cities, and Vienna in particular, in relation to the collaborative economy including in the field of accommodation and his input was very well received by participants.
The CoR and the rapporteur's city, Vienna, have also been successful in relation to the European Parliament's work in this field. For instance at least a dozen amendments tabled to the legislative initiative report on the DSA by MEP Alex Agius Saliba aim to put forward the views and concerns of local and regional authorities and are clearly influenced by the work of the CoR and Vienna in this field. Several of these amendments were preserved in the final text of the resolution which states, among other key elements, that "the DSA should aim at ensuring legal certainty and clarity by creating a governance framework formalising the cooperation between platforms and national, regional and local authorities aiming especially at sharing best practices and establishing a set of information obligations of short-term rental and mobility platforms vis-à-vis their service providers concerning relevant national, regional and local legislation " (emphasis added).