European Youth Media Days 2016

Sharing economy – connecting people with common values

Text by Marta Dancs, Hungary

Sharing economy is a buzzword that changes the old way of thinking about travelling, eating, and money. 

For many, Uber has replaced or renewed the definition of a taxi service. Airbnb reshapes the traditional forms of holiday and crowdfunding websites offer great opportunity for entrepreneurs without much capital to invest.

But not every player in the market is amused by these challengers to the status quo. Taxi drivers all over the world protest against the new ride-sharing services and Airbnb is shrouded in controversy about taxation.

There is no universal agreement within the EU on how to treat these innovative technologies, but it is already apparent that some of the laws are outdated.

The definition of shared economy includes shared creation and production of goods or services via digital technologies. This kind of innovation is extremely important for the European Union, which has a lack of natural resources but enough knowledge to create various knowledge hubs.

Chelsea Rustrum emphasised that the sharing economy concept seems to challenge the importance of qualifications, such as having to have a certified driver, hotel manager or similar. A consultant for Fortune 500 companies as often as sharing economy start ups, Rustrum finds it important to differentiate between for-profit and non-profit profiles and recognises that the “profit at any cost” corporate model will never support the sharing economy idea.

Anika Saigal, founder of Roomsplit, said that sharing economy businesses should be based on larger values. In fact, they are encouraging people to share their values and essentially build communities but unfortunately some companies masquerade as shared economy enterprises even though they go to no effort to form these communities.

Besides all the goodness that comes with this kind of innovation, it is always wise to remember that change should not be so fast that society finds it difficult to adapt.

While on the one hand it seems normal that legislation sometimes falls behind, you can expect a lot of problems unless sharing economy legislation is harmonised in the EU.

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