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

Projekt no UMO-2017/27/B/HS5/02073 is funded by NCN (OPUS 14). It was carried out from 3 August 2018 to 2 February 2024.

Principal investigator: prof. dr hab. Monika Szwarc

contractor: dr Wojciech Lewandowski

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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).

prof. dr hab. Monika Szwarc

PhD obtained in 2004 in the Institute of Law Studies PAS (Konstrukcja współpracy zacieśnionej w Unii Europejskiej, [Enhanced cooperation in the European Union] under supervision of prof. Dr hab. Władysław Czapliński). Habilitation in law obtained in 2012 in the Institue of Law Studies PAS (Kompetencje Unii Europejskiej w dziedzinie harmonizacji prawa karnego materialnego, [The competences of the European Union to harmonise criminal law] Warszawa 2011). Professor title obtained in 2022. At the Institute of Law Studies as Associate Professor (2004-2012) and Professor of the ILS PAS (2012-2022) and Professor since 2022.

Chair of the Department of European Law since 2018, Deputy Chairwoman of the Scientific Council of the ILS PAS (2023-2026 term).

Holder of scholarships from van Calker Foundation (2003), College d’Europe Foundation (2006), Ministry of Science and Higher Education (2009-2011) and National Science Centre (2018-2023).

dr Wojciech Lewandowski

Dr. Wojciech Lewandowski has been employed at the Department of European Law at the Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences as an assistant professor since July 2023; previously, he served as a research assistant since November 2018. In June 2022, he defended his doctoral thesis entitled “The Scope of European Union Competition Law’s Intervention in the Autonomy of Self-Regulatory Federations” at the Institute under the supervision of Professor Monika Szwarc.

He graduated in law from the Faculty of Law and Administration at the University of Warsaw. From 2018 to 2022, he served as the secretary of the Scientific Council of the ILS PAS. He was a two-time DAAD scholarship holder (research stays at the University of Bonn and the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Munich).

Since March 2023, he has been an Associate in the Climate Strategy Delivery department at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, responsible for supporting green economic transformation in the Bank’s operations in Poland. From April to December 2023, he chaired the Working Group on Green Bond Market Development within the Polish Sustainable Finance Platform. Previously, he worked at the think tank WiseEuropa, where he coordinated research projects on EU political processes, implementation of EU policies at the national level, sustainable finance agenda, industrial and trade policies, as well as Ukraine’s reconstruction and support for the EU accession process after the war. He gained experience as an EU public policy expert, especially in industrial, climate, and economic policy, at the Department of European Affairs at the Ministry of Development and Technology from 2019 to 2021.