• Client: European Commission - DG GROW
  • Implementation period: 2017 - 2018 (Completed)
  • Geographic coverage: European Union

What is the current level of economic development of the collaborative economy in the EU?

Collaborative economy business models are growing strongly in Europe and are changing the lives of its citizens. There is a strong growth potential for collaborative economy businesses, but they also face many regulatory barriers by challenging existing traditional ways of doing business. The European Commission aims to facilitate the developments within the collaborative economy. In order to do so, it needs a clear image of the importance and developments of the collaborative economy in the EU Member States.

The study developed an indicator methodology to measure the current level of development of the collaborative economy of the EU-28 across the transport, accommodation, finance and online skills sectors. It also provided estimates on a number of economic indicators, such as revenues and employment on EU, Member State and sector level. One of the main added values of the project was that it developed a database of collaborative economy platforms in each Member State and each studied sector within the defined scope of the study (i.e. Peer-to-peer and Peer-to-business transactions only).

The study revealed the following main findings on the level of economic development of the collaborative economy on the EU and sector level:

  • The overall size of the collaborative economy in the EU-28 in 2016 is estimated to be EUR 26.5 billion (0.17% of EU-28 GDP in 2016).
    • The largest markets for the collaborative economy can be found in France (25% of the total collaborative EU-28 market), the UK (17%), Poland (10%) and Spain (10%).
  • Similarly, it is estimated that about 394 000 persons are employed within the collaborative economy in the EU-28 (0.15% of EU-28 employment).
  • The level of development of the collaborative economy in the EU varies a lot between Member States. The EU-28 average share of the collaborative economy (the share of collaborative economy in GDP) is 0.17%.
  • In all sectors and indicator categories (revenues, employment or number of collaborative platforms) there are as many as five frontrunners, leaders in terms of performance in that sector or indicator category. The performance of those countries is two or more times the EU-28 average.
    • Countries that are performing above average typically have more than one collaborative economy sector which is performing well.
  • In total, there were 651 platforms identified as collaborative platforms originating in the EU (e.g. not US based) in the four distinguished sectors.
    • Most platforms operate in the finance sector (268), followed by the online skills (179) and transport (142) sectors. The fewest ‘domestic’ platforms are operating in the accommodation sector (62).
    • In addition, there are 42 internationally operating platforms originating from outside the EU.
    • Of the EU-origin collaborative platforms, there are 51 (less than 10% of all platforms in scope) operating in more than one Member State. At the same time, the big international players (i.e. Uber, Airbnb, UberEats, Kickstarter, Indiegogo and others) generate roughly EUR 10 billion (about 40%) out of the total EU-28 collaborative economy revenue in EU Member States.
  • On average, 15% of the value of a transaction facilitated by collaborative economy platforms is received by platform. The revenue models the platforms apply vary significantly between sectors and business models.
  • Availability of data describing development of the collaborative economy is scarce. Despite the data gaps, comparing study results with other studies and analyses showed that the study results are comparable and fully reliable.

The project was carried out between March 2017 and March 2018, in collaboration with Technopolis (project lead) and VVA.