The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, is planning to hold talks with policymakers across its member states to see how they are blocking the expansion efforts of companies like Uber and Airbnb, Bloomberg reports.
Each of Europe’s 28 member states have their own set of laws that US technology giants and others must try and navigate when they expand to the continent.
The relatively new sharing economy companies — those that allow people to let out their properties, possessions or services, in exchange for a fee — have faced court battles across Europe. Uber, for example, has been in court in London and Berlin for its disruptive taxi-app that stands to put licensed taxi drivers out of business, while Airbnb has had to navigate decades-old subletting laws in some cases that stop people from renting out their rooms.
According to Bloomberg, the European Commission wants to have discussions with member states to find out how national rules may be blocking the expansion efforts of new technology companies. It believes that removing legislative roadblocks could help fuel the European economy at a time when countries like Greece and Portugal are facing austerity.
Following the discussions, the Commission is expected to issue guidance on how EU law applies to collaborative business models, according to Bloomberg.
EU Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen told the financial media organisation that there needs to be a dialogue between the Commission and member states “in order to raise their awareness that there’s a contradiction that might have a negative impact to economic growth in their country.
“If they are in contradiction with the EU law, then we will use our enforcement policy to ensure compliance of the EU law.”
Mark MacGann, Uber’s head of public policy for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, told Bloomberg that the European Union can’t afford to “obfuscate and drag its feet.”
He added: “The unemployed youth in places like Spain, they’re not going to forgive the European Union if it considers this new collaborative economy as a problem to be solved, rather than an opportunity to be seized.”
Katainen said the EU needs to look at why countries chose their existing regulations before introducing new ones.