On 15 March, the Application Developers Alliance, with Anneleen Van Bossuyt MEP, co-hosted the policy roundtable “Scaling the Sharing Economy: Voices from Across the Chain”.
The audience, which included more than 50 stakeholders, policy makers, developers and entrepreneurs, discussed the European sharing economy and the opportunities and challenges that companies face when attempting to scale within it. Speaking on the panel were:
- Anneleen Van Bossuyt MEP (ECR)
- Catriona Meehan, Alliance Director of European Policy and Government Affairs
- Andreas Backx, Co-Founder and CEO of Lunchbreak
- Rosa Dinnissen, Business Manager at airBsit
- Drummond Gilbert, CEO at GoCarShare
- Dan Dalton MEP (ECR)
- Carlo Corazza, Head of the Unit “Tourism, Creative and Emerging Industries”, DG GROWTH, European Commission
The sharing economy has the undeniable potential to empower both consumers and those individuals providing services, whilst improving competition and facilitating the creation of new services offered at more affordable prices. However, some areas as consumer trust and sector regulation are still divisive issues, and dominated the days discussion.
We heard great stories from our speakers representing the industry: Andreas Backx, developer and Co-Founder of Lunchbreak, a tailored lunch delivery app based in Ghent, which is working with a Brussels marketing team to expand in the whole Belgium.
Rosa Dinnissen spoke on behalf of airBsit, an innovative app, which helps parents find trustworthy babysitters thanks to their network of friends and user ratings. Invented by two Belgian mothers, it has gained 27,500 users since its launch in Belgium in November 2015 and is now preparing to expand to the Netherlands.
Drummond Gilbert, Founder and CEO of GoCarShare, gave an insight into the car-sharing industry by speaking about his company, a service built around Facebook, which helps you share car journeys with your extended social network, for occasions such as festivals, sports and big events.
They made two points clear: entrepreneurs fear that excessive and outdated regulation is stifling innovation in the sharing economy and that they put user trust in the service and in other users at the foundation of the sharing economy. “Trust in the idea, trust in the company and trust between users is what drives my business and the sharing economy as whole”, said Drummond Gilbert.
Daniel Dalton MEP backed them up when saying, “the sharing economy gives us a huge opportunity to reduce some of these regulatory burdens as trust regulates the industry”. He emphasised the positive potential of the sharing economy in empowering consumers. Carlo Corazza, both during the event and in his interview with the Alliance, echoed these sentiments saying that “the internal market should be a place of freedom; it is a good idea to not only protect consumers but to empower them”.
The overall consensus throughout the event was that the sharing economy holds enormous economic, societal and environmental potential and we are only on the cusp of realising the full extent of it. Anneleen Van Bossuyt MEP concluded the discussion by surmising, “we have to trust in the value of trust, and reduce regulatory burdens otherwise we are limiting innovation in the sharing economy”.
Catriona Meehan, Alliance Director of EU Policy and Government concluded by saying, “It's great to see MEPs engaging with dynamic and young entrepreneurs, who wish to establish and grow their businesses in an innovation-friendly environment”.
Watch the video of the event and the interviews with speakers and policy makers here and check out our Facebook Page!