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Growing urbanisation and increasing traffic congestion create a significant burden on the economy and require that transport is increasingly integrated, digitalised and multi-modal, say MEPs in an own-initiative report adopted in the Transport and Tourism committee on Tuesday. Small transport companies with the ability to innovate have a crucial role to play in the transport system, and development of collaborative business models can optimise vehicle and infrastructure use, they add.

Consumers expect easily accessible and flexible ways to use transport services, which are affordable and have secure payment options, transport MEPs say, and note the positive effects of sharing economy operators in creating new jobs for young people entering the labour market and independent workers.

However, EU needs to develop more innovative start-ups in the transport sector, as most providers in the collaborative economy come from outside the EU, they add.

Tackle fragmentation and anti-competitive behaviour

EU member states should tackle over-regulation and anti-competitive behaviour that leads to fragmentation of rules and causes difficulties for small businesses, MEPs say, and call for a harmonisation of the rules on access to regulated occupations and activities. This would enable new operators and services linked to digital platforms and collaborative economy to develop, they add.

Any new requirements on small businesses should not hamper their development and reflect, when necessary, the regional and national characteristics in different member states, MEPs say. They also urge for dialogue and improved relations between all sides and for a solution to be found to the problem of bogus self-employed persons.

Coordinated action on collaborative business model

Member States’ fragmented response so far does not reflect the potential and benefits of the development of this sector and consumer expectations, MEPs say. For the development of collaborative economy, the solution should not be sector-specific regulation nor regulation aimed solely at platforms.

Coordinated action at European level and a modernised multimodal regulatory framework that fosters innovation and competitiveness, protects of consumers and their data, safeguards the rights of workers and ensures a level playing field for different operators is needed, MEPs say. The Commission has taken a reasonable approach to the ‘new business model’ in its Communication on collaborative economy, they add.

Clear definitions for intermediaries and service providers

To avoid legal uncertainty, a “consistent and not overlapping” definition of 'intermediaries' and 'service providers' is also needed, transport MEPs say. MEPs warn that lack of a clear legal framework that covers intermediaries, which have the potential to give a boost to a more consumer-demand focused market, can lead to harmful dominant market positions.

Distinction should be made between intermediation platforms, which generate no profits for its users, and those that do, “with or without an employer-employee relationship between the service provider and the platform”.

National authorities should also be enabled to require information from the intermediation platforms in order to ensure that all parties fulfil their tax and social security obligations and to guarantee that service providers are competent and qualified to ensure consumer protection.

Next steps

The draft resolution now needs to be voted by the full house of the Parliament

 Disclaimer: this is an informal message intended to help journalists covering the work of the European Parliament. It is neither an official press release nor a comprehensive record of proceedings.