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Oi, Europe: join in the sharing economy fun, yells

Dept publishes important 'non-paper' on the sharing economy

Blighty is demanding Europe make it easier for sharing economy companies by cracking down on those spoilsport member states who "unlawfully" get in their way, said today in a "non-paper" on the subject.

"We need a measured approach: putting a hold on reactive bans which don’t recognise the reality of internet-enabled commerce, and instead looking carefully at the new challenges posed by the sector," said the department for Business, Innovation and Skill in its UK non-paper on the sharing economy [PDF].

It added: "The Commission must enforce existing EU legislation and infract [member states] who are disproportionately and therefore unlawfully imposing barriers to the free movement of services."

It comes as a number of European countries have gone head-to-head with sharing economy businesses of late. Most recently, Uber pulled its Uberpop service in France following a number of clashes with traditional taxi drivers.

But the UK has made no secret of its desire to cozy up to the industry. Earlier this year it commissioned an 'independent' sharing economy review written by Debbie Wosskow, founder of Love Home Swap, an, err sharing economy business. It then established The Sharing Economy UK trade body.

However, not everyone was convinced by the body. Mark Field, Conservative MP for Cities of London & Westminster, said in a Parliamentary debate that its creation was "essentially a front for a commercial campaign".

He said: "Frankly, it is akin to setting up a trade body of payday lenders to dictate financial services policy. I am sorry that the wool is being pulled over the minister’s eyes as these self-professed independent voices dictate a commercially advantageous landscape."

In March The Register revealed that despite moves by the government to push through headline-grabbing sharing economy legislation, there was no evidence to support its claims that London residents have been fined for using sites such as Airbnb.

Councils in London have complained that the legislation could have the unintended consequence of increasing commercial lets. ®


Non-papers are discussion documents drawn up either by one of the EU's institutions or by a government and do not represent the official position of the country ... essentially rendering the whole exercise even more pointless.

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