Catalan Government approves report for developing the Sharing Economy

  • This is the first step towards tackling the collaborative and platforms economy in Catalonia
  • The objective is to facilitate the deployment of these new practices and, at the same time, guarantee fair competition and respect for the rights of consumers and of workers
  • The document proposes the creation of the shared home as a new type of non-professional tourist offer and incorporate improvements to the transport of light vehicles in order to respond to the sectors in which the collaborative economy has a more relevant impact
  • The report also promotes the approval of a Code of good practices and the signing of collaboration agreements with sharing economy platforms

The Government today approved the report prepared by the Interdepartmental Commission for the Development of the Sharing Economy. This is the first step to address the adjustment of the sharing economy to our society and economy and to take full advantage of it. The objective is to achieve a stable framework for the development of the collaborative economy, and to disseminate the challenges and opportunities that this new phenomenon represents.

The report describes the collaborative economy as a concept umbrella that encompasses all those new business and social realities that arise due to the emergence of digital technology and technological platforms. Those platforms are characterized by the fact that citizens can offer or exchange services or resources underused, connecting supply and demand. This generates new models for the provision of services and activities that already existed. Also it changes the disintermediation of traditional operators and the role of the citizen, who can also become a producer agent.

Based on this characterization, the document proposes different measures and actions to, 1) enable the expansion of these new modalities of delivery of services,  and, 2) at the same time, guarantee its coexistence with the existing traditional modalities within each sector. Thus, a revision of all the sectoral regulations is agreed, in order to adapt them to the new environment. Also, some measures are already adopted for the areas where the collaborative economy has already had a relevant impact: that of housing and tourism and the one of the transport and mobility.

Additionally action measures are proposed in cross-sectional areas (such as fiscal or labor ones), in order to ensure that the collaborative economy is integrated into economic activity, guaranteeing fair competition and respecting the rights of consumers and workers The report suggests the approval of a Code of Good Practices for sharing economy platforms, and promotes the signing of collaboration agreements with technological platforms.

The work of the Interdepartmental Commission has been organized in through different groups for each subject. Their work has been completed with two additional measures: 1) the contributions of two sectoral tables open to the various representatives of the housing and tourism sectors and of transport and mobility, and 2) a process of participation open to all citizens.

Actions in the field of tourism and housing: the shared home

In the area of ​​housing and tourism, the objective is to define a minimum framework applicable to the whole of Catalonia, and then municipalities can adapt it to their territorial reality. The report proposes the creation of a new modality, the shared home, which is defined as a non-professional tourism offer consisting of sharing the main house (regular and permanent residence) for periods of short duration without annual limitation. The requirements to carry out this modality (totally differentiated from the homes of tourist use) are: 1) Having the census where the activity is carried out, 2) having the certificate of habitability in force and 3) offering a maximum number of places.

Actions in the field of transport and mobility: Towards shared mobility

With regard to transport and mobility, the report identifies that the collaborative economy is materialized in practices such as 1) the shared use of a vehicle as a leisurely good (carsharing), 2) the journey or shared displacement in transport of people (carpooling or ridesharing) or 3) the sharing of a journey or displacement in the transport of goods. It is proposed to include these models in the current Catalan Laws related to mobility and transports. The document recalls that the transport of people specifically designed for the use of third parties is a professionalized and integrated activity in the public transport system, and therefore subject to regulation. In this regard, a revision of the regulations is proposed to incorporate the improvements that technological platforms propose to this public service. It is also suggested the assessment of the need and proportionality of the current regulatory measures. Finally, the inclusion of concepts like the shared taxi, a more simple and transparent tariff system, and the extension of the use of technology applications based on geolocation. In the same manner, the document encourages active policies for the promotion of the new models of shared mobility, such as pilot tests in specific geographic or functional areas, their inclusion in the catalog of integrated services or the modernization and digitization of the taxi and transport sectors.

Proposals of a transversal nature

In the fiscal field, the report promotes the development of a practical guide for citizens to know their tax obligations derived from their activity as a citizen producer agent. There are also recommendations on fiscal policy, such as the simplification of VAT management, the modification of the VAT system in certain cases and the proposal of new IRPF treatments. Likewise, it is urged to ensure that the technology platforms that operate in Catalonia pay tribute according to their activity and benefits in this territory, and to develop the figure of the assistant in the tax collection.

In the labor arena, given the diversity of situations that the practice of the collaborative economy generates, the development of a classification of service platforms according to their employment relationships is promoted. Different actions are also proposed so that these new occupational situations can be recognized and framed in the current framework of labor relations (modification of autonomous contributions, revitalization of the part-time contract, study of contribution thresholds) or modify this framework.

The report also endorses the signing of a Code of Good Practices for Collaborative Economy Platforms, which has been developed with the aim of creating a trusted environment for all participants in transactions. This mechanism will allow: 1) to articulate a system of litigation resolution through a simple and accessible mediation between the parties, 2) to facilitate the differentiation between a professional offer and a citizen-producer, 3) and to establish a channel of fluid collaboration with the administrations

The work of the Interdepartmental Commission also promotes the signing of public-private collaboration agreements with digital platforms, so that the traceability and information of the activity takes advantage of aspects such as compliance with the sector regulations or the collection of taxes. It also proposes public-private collaboration in the field of data, with the aim of optimizing its use in the design of public policies.

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