Consumers in the sharing economy
Contract CHAFEA/2015/CP/02 concerning ‘The exploratory Study of Consumer Issues in the Sharing Economy’ (2015-2016)
Client: Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency
The sharing economy is a recently emerging phenomenon usually involving collaborative consumption through the coordinated acquisition and/or distribution of resources. The study’s overall objective was to gather a broad understanding of the peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing economy sector with a view to user, and, in particular, consumer aspects and issues. The ultimate purpose was to identify the main issues for consumers in this new and fast developing market as well as potential barriers to the sector’s development. Reliable, robust and operational policy recommendations were provided to support the economic development of the sector across the EU and to guarantee the highest level of consumer protection at EU and Member State levels.
In this context, Milieu developed the legal analysis that aimed to assess the EU consumer acquis and related legislation’s relevance on the one hand, and the Member States’ legislation on the other, in addressing gaps and problems in consumer protection regarding for-profit P2P transactions or online platforms that facilitate P2P transactions, with particular attention being paid to cross-border transactions. This assessment focused on P2P transactions facilitated through businesses, intermediaries and platforms. Only online platforms that charge users a fee and whose activities consist in sharing a range of services, namely transport, accommodation and non-professional services, were included in the scope of the study.
Milieu produced 28 Country Reports which aimed to identify and analyse both the national legislation applicable to C2C transactions and to distinguish between B2C and C2C transactions, as well as to identify relevant national case-law. Research at Member State level was coupled with EU-level research that analysed both the application of relevant EU consumer law Directive to P2P transactions and relevant EU case-law. The assessments’ findings at the EU and national levels fed into a Legal Analysis Report that aimed to cross-analyse data and information collected and to identify consumer issues in online P2P markets, especially those with a cross-border element.