Market context

In Spain, the regulatory response to the phenomenon from each level of administration (national, regional, local) is proving to be slow and reactionary. New articles are being added to pre-existing regulations that benefit the traditional service suppliers as opposed to suppliers from the new digital platforms.

In Italy, on the other hand, the national parliament is negotiating the “Sharing Economy Act” (Act 3564), which is intended to regulate the phenomenon comprehensively through rules common to all platforms. These rules will require them to operate with transparency, fulfil their fiscal obligations, comply with the competition regulations and ensure consumers’ protection.

When it comes to reacting to the sharing economy, public policies can pursue three goals (be it through laws or action plans): establish requirements or forbid certain exchanges, facilitate and promote their use or try to respond in a neutral way without generating consequences.

In addition, legislation can adopt five different perspectives to solve the conflict:

  1. Regulate the phenomenon of the collaborative economy as a whole. Passing a global framework law that covers the different types of platforms and establishes their basic needs; or establishing a general framework that can be adapted to each platform on a case by case basis (Carballa Smichowski, 2016).
  2. Regulate the phenomenon sector by sector, enabling liberalization. Through a framework law capable of anticipating and addressing the way exchanges are conducted in that sector.
  3. Modify or introduce certain articles from existing regulations. To clarify and solve a conflict through the use of the law or to ensure consumers’ protection (Ranchordas, 2015).
  4.  Joint regulation through the intervention of public authorities and self-regulating platforms (Cannon & Chung, 2014). When the exchanges of services are conducted at a small scale or within the private sphere. Or where a quantitative threshold (for example, according to monthly income) is introduced to determine when an activity starts being considered professional and is therefore subject to ordinary administrative regulations and obligations.
  5. Without public intervention or regulation. Self-regulation and laissez-faire complemented by court rulings. The conflict, which is not considered juridical and therefore does not require legislative response, can be solved by modifying the administration’s control and supervision procedures or by allowing the affected parties to take the cases to court. Regulatory intervention hinders the development of the collaborative economy (M. Cohen & Sundararajan, 2015).