Free movement of services in the sharing economy model: regulatory challenges in the EU internal market

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This project is funded by NCN and was carried out from 03 August 2018 to 02 August 2021.

General information

The provision of services in the sharing economy model is gaining social and economic momentum worldwide, including in the European Union and its Member States. The best known examples of such services are Uber in the transport sector and Airbnb in the tourist accommodation sector. The services market also encompasses other professional services (such as cleaning, small repairs, plumber, electrician, etc. as well as legal advice, and translation, etc.). This business model features service providers sharing their goods, resources, time or skills (these may be individuals offering services on an occasional basis or professional service providers), the consumers of these services and intermediaries connecting – via an online platform – the providers with the consumers and facilitating transactions between them. If these services are provided in return for remuneration and on a cross-border basis, then they fall within the purview of European Union law, in particular the freedom of movement of services (Article 49 TFEU) and a number of other acts of EU legislation.

The market for services provided in the sharing economy model is developing rapidly in the EU and, on the other hand, the movement of such services may be significantly restricted by Member States’ national laws and certain provisions of EU law.

Project objectives

The aim of the project is to answer the question of whether current EU legislation allows the free movement of services (both the supply and receipt) within the internal market under the new business model, i.e. the collaborative economy model or the sharing economy model, which has been developing over the last few years, or whether the challenges and risks associated with the movement of services within the sharing economy require legislative action and a new approach to this issue at European Union level.

The main objective of the project is to verify whether the needs identified by the actors of the sharing economy model (protection of their rights, in particular to benefit from the freedom to provide services in the internal market; legal security of their activities; protection of recipients of services, in particular in relation to their quality) are sufficiently met by the existing provisions of EU law or whether legislative action at the level of the European Union is necessary.

Importance of the study for the development of legal practice

The research will draw conclusions on the optimal model for the legal regulation of service provision in the sharing economy. The combination of an analysis of existing EU laws (applicable to cross-border provision of services in the sharing economy) on the one hand, and an analysis of their compatibility of Member States’ practice with existing EU law, on the other hand, will allow us to answer the question of whether Member States’ autonomy (as it currently stems from EU law) should be preserved in this area, or whether legislative action at EU level would be necessary (and in which areas).

Head: Monika Szwarc, PhD, Professor INP PAN