The Alliance had the chance to sit down with Carlo Corazza, Head of Unit F4 at DG GROW, in occasion of the Alliance’s Tech Policy Roundtable “Scaling the Sharing Economy: Voices from Across the Chain”.
A law graduate with a wide expertise in Internal Market and Digital Single Market issues, Carlo Corazza collaborated with the former European Commission Vice President, Tajani, as his Spokesperson. He subsequently was nominated Head of the Unit “International Affairs and Missions for Growth” at DG GROW.
During his career, he was responsible for several policy issues including association agreements, consumer protection, and industrial policy. Amongst other files, he participated in the drafting of the Directive on Electronic Commerce (2000/31/EC).
As a part of our "Face to Face with the European Commission" series, we explored the area of the sharing economy with Mr. Corazza, as well as the Commission’s future actions, the role of digital intermediaries and his own opinions on the collaborative economy.
Application Developers Alliance: There are few areas growing as quickly and creating as many opportunities as the Sharing economy. What are your views about its potential and benefits?
Carlo Corazza: The collaborative economy is based on innovative business models that help consumers and service providers match their needs with new offers of goods and services. The collaborative economy has the potential to increase efficiency, transparency, choice and convenience for consumers as well as reducing costs. Private individuals, fast-growing start-ups, and well established companies can all make use of the opportunities offered by the collaborative economy. At the same time, there are important issues related to consumer rights, taxes and labour laws that need to be addressed.
The collaborative economy blurred the lines between consumer and provider, goods and services, and use and ownership. This ultimately creates some tensions with existing public policies, designed for a different world; moreover, this causes a hasty or uncoordinated response at a national, or local, level to various challenges that may create legal uncertainty, fragment the single market and hamper the development of the collaborative economy in Europe.
Application Developers Alliance: What actions are the European Commission undertaking as the digital conciliator and advocate of the sharing economy?
Carlo Corazza: The Commission is now looking at how we can encourage the development of new and innovative services and the temporary use of assets, without favoring one business model over another.
The collaborative economy leads to greater choice and lower prices for consumers, while providing growth opportunities for European businesses. At the same time, there are important issues related to consumer rights, taxes, and labour laws that all need to be addressed.
We are looking into all these issues carefully and are working on several fronts.
The Commission concluded a public consultation on online platforms and the collaborative economy in January 2016. We received more than 1000 responses. The preliminary results show that uncertainty over the rights and obligations of users and providers could be a major obstacle to the growth of the collaborative economy.
As part of its Single Market strategy, the Commission will adopt a European Agenda, which will provide guidance on how existing EU laws apply to the collaborative economy. This guidance will focus on the Services Directive, the E-commerce Directive, and the EU Consumer Acquis.
We are also conducting several studies to support the European Agenda. These will look at the consumer aspects, the regulatory and market overview of the European taxi, ride sharing services and an economic analysis of platforms of the collaborative economy. The Commission will also publish a communication on the role of online platforms in the Digital Single Market in June 2016.
Finally, we work together with public and private stakeholders to facilitate the exchange of good practices in the collaborative economy.
Application Developers Alliance: The industry looks forward to the Commission’s guidelines on how to apply existing EU legislation on the sharing economy. When are these expected to be published? How will these relate to the Platform Communication?
Carlo Corazza: In line with the timetable set by the Single Market Strategy, the Communication on the European agenda on the Collaborative Economy will be adopted in mid-2016. The Communication on online platforms, as foreseen in the Digital Single Market, will be adopted in June.
While the Platform Communication will cover those issues identified in the Digital Single Market Strategy as affecting in a horizontal manner of several, or all types, of online platforms. The Communication on the European agenda, the Collaborative economy, will go beyond online platforms. First, it will cover aspects which are relevant for other actors active in the collaborative economy such as peers/services providers and final users. Second, when looking at online platforms, it will only cover those aspects which are specific to the collaborative economy platforms.
Application Developers Alliance: How could industries, entrepreneurs, digital startups help and assist DG GROW when developing the most effective and reasonable policies?
Carlo Corazza: First of all by participating in our public consultations on any of our current and future policy proposals will help the Commission shape its policies for the benefit of all interested parties.
Stakeholders are of course always invited to send their position papers to the Commission and are also the most welcome to participate in forums, conferences and debates organised on this subject.