EU directives to embrace the 'sharing economy'

The European Commission will guide member states as to how to deal with companies like Uber and Airbnb

EU directives to embrace the 'sharing economy'

Bertrand Combaldieu / AP

The European Commission will publish guidelines in the coming days regarding how EU member states should regulate the 'sharing economy.'

Disruptive services like Uber and Airbnb have been creating problems for lawmakers in some countries.

Uber in particular, has been banned or threatened with bans in a number of European territories - The Financial Times reports that the EU's publication will warn that bans should be a "measure of last resort."

The Commission says that rules like Berlin's crackdown on Airbnb rentals are "generally difficult to justify." The guidelines are expected to be sympathetic to these companies, and could go some way to defrosting EU/US tech relations - politicians in the US have claimed that European regulations have been targeting companies from the US.

Uber is facing bans in Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands - Ireland's Department of Transport says that it would not favour the launching of Uber Pop in the country.

Uber Pop allows casual vetted drivers to use the app to offer people lifts for money - without being a licensed taxi driver. This service has been causing controversy across Europe, and provoked aggressive protests in France last summer.

Taxi app Hailo has voiced its support for the Department of Transport's recommendation to not extend permission to Uber to offer ride-sharing services which go beyond those offered by traditional taxi firms.

Tim Arnold, Hailo's general manager for Ireland said that, "ride-sharing, and the substantial lowering of standards that it would entail, amounts to a race to the bottom on quality and price that would jeopardise passenger safety."

A brief prepared for the Minister for Transport by civil servants signalled strong official resistance to most of Uber's services. In other regions apps like Uber allow unlicensed taxi drivers offer lifts for money.

Kieran Harte, general manager of Uber for Ireland and Northern Ireland said that the company will continue to engage with the Department and that its services are "reliable" and "safe."

Irish laws currently require anyone offering transport in a car for money to hold a taxi licence. The limited Uber service which is offered in Ireland uses registered taxi drivers.