We hosted four roundtable debates on different aspects of the sharing economy during EUROCITIES 2016 Milan on 16-18 November, the first of which focused on 'city competences and legislative frameworks'.
The roundtable explored the need to find a balance between regulation and openness to make the most of the potential of the sharing economy, while ensuring citizens’ needs and interests remain the main focus.
Participants agreed that if cities want to position themselves as leaders in the sharing economy, they must regulate appropriately. One of the examples cited of the impact of the sharing economy in cities was AirBnB, which in some cases is distorting the housing market and presenting challenges for students or residents on low to medium incomes. Regulation is necessary to protect citizens against such unfair conditions, but participants also agreed that cities must have the flexibility to regulate appropriately according to their specific local contexts. It is also important to examine closely both sides of the situation, and look at the benefits and consequences of platforms such as Uber, which while disruptive to the taxi industry, can deliver benefits in terms of promoting car sharing. Furthermore, all sharing isn’t equal: less available housing is quite different to fewer cars on the road.
Participants also noted the potential of the sharing economy to drive public sector innovation and economic benefits, such as through increased tourism.
Participants agreed that cooperation between local, regional, national governments and EU institutions is needed to develop the appropriate framework that would regulate but also support the development of the sharing economy.
As cities understand best the societal changes associated with the sharing economy, participants proposed including it in the Urban Agenda for the EU. They acknowledged the importance of EUROCITIES as a forum to share good practices, and discussed the concept of a ‘toolkit’ to support cities in dealing with the sharing economy.