Zavod 14 is pleased to present a publication on Sharing Economy in Europe: Opportunities and Challenges, supported by European Liberal Forum (ELF). It is well established that manufacturing in developed economies is under massive pressure. The story of the deindustrialisation of developed economies started in the 1950s and today the value added by manufacturing as a share of GDP is below 15 percent in most OECD countries. Nevertheless, the financial crisis of 2008 and the following recession have led many people and companies to seek alternative employment and income sources, and made developed economies generally recognise the danger of being over-reliant on financial services. Europe thus needs to ‘rebalance’ the economy. It is believed that ‘an industrial renaissance’ or ‘reindustrialisation’ will be able to bring jobs and growth back to Europe. Nevertheless, surviving in developed economies entails more than simply providing products and it is suggested that companies need to move up the value chain, innovate and create ever more sophisticated services to allow them not to compete on cost alone. Companies are thus increasingly basing their entire competitive strategies on service innovation. In this respect, Oxford Economics conducted an international survey of almost 400 senior executives from industrial sectors which showed the share of companies competing through service contracts or products-as-a-service is expected to rise by more than 150 percent over the next 3 years. A large part of this trend involves the so-called sharing and collaborative economy that has become a true trendsetter in recent years. Nevertheless, considering the economic importance of the sharing economy and its broader impact on society, scholars and practitioners need to respond to this emerging process by examining the related legal, economic and societal challenges. One example is the Europe-wide legal procedures against Uber that have led to two cases for preliminary ruling being referred to the EU Court of Justice. Moreover, other EU institutions are seeking to provide a multi-dimensional response to this development in business, dealing with a variety of infrastructural, leadership, skilling and regulatory aspects.

Published under the auspices of ELF and Zavod 14, this monograph aims to contribute to this end by presenting academics’ and practitioners’ responses to the challenges posed by the collaborative economy. It includes ten chapters that are arranged from the more general towards the more specific. With this interesting consideration of certain dimensions of the sharing and collaborative economy, in terms of both substance and geographical spread, it is hoped the monograph will stimulate debates and broaden readers’ interest in this new trend in business that is spreading across sectors and around the world like a hurricane.

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