Airbnb Leads Call for EU to Block Nations' Sharing-Economy Laws

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Airbnb, Uber and TaskRabbit are leading an effort to convince EU leaders that the sharing economy helps growth and shouldn’t be restricted by piecemeal national laws.

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  • Uber, TaskRabbit join 47-firm letter to EU on single market
  • Firms ask EU leaders to back the sector as an aid to growth

Airbnb Inc., Uber Technologies Inc. and TaskRabbit Inc. are leading a 47-company effort to convince European Union leaders that the sharing economy helps growth and shouldn’t be restricted by piecemeal national laws.

QuickTake The Sharing Economy

The firms wrote to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, to ask for a stronger commitment to collaborative business models in the EU’s push to boost jobs and growth. The 28-nation bloc has said it will assess the impact of national laws and regulations as it seeks to jumpstart cross-border investment and create a digital single market.

“We urge member states to support these objectives and continue to seek to ensure that local and national laws do not unnecessarily limit the development of the collaborative economy to the detriment of Europeans,” the companies said in the Feb. 10 letter to Rutte, which was seen by Bloomberg News before it’s made public later this week. They’re seeking EU affirmation at a meeting this month of industry ministers.

The EU sees companies like Uber and Airbnb as a way to boost economic output without requiring countries to increase public spending. The European Commission’s collective-economy proposals are part of its broader single-market strategy, released in October, which tackle everything from venture capital rules to the bloc’s patchwork of insolvency laws, as well as a separate effort to improve access to online goods and services.

Firms in the sharing economy say their business models are “making better use of resources” by taking up slack in both the supply of services and consumer demand. Countries have countered that the companies shouldn’t be able to bypass national regulations -- for example, in December the EU’s Court of Justice was asked by a Belgian court whether Uber’s ride-sharing services should be regulated as a taxi provider.

Airbnb said in a statement accompanying the joint letter that the EU can “lead an economic revolution” that benefits households and local businesses by supporting the sharing sector.

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