On the 25th of July, 2017, a law proposal on the commons and active citizenship was presented in the Regional Council of Tuscany, Italy. This is the first regional law on the commons in the Italian context. The law proposal concerns the “Social subsidiarity and civic collaboration for the governance of the urban commons for the application of articles 58 and 59 of the Regional Bylaws”. As highlighted by the President of the Regional Council Eugenio Giani, the director of the legislative office Gemma Pastore, and the secretary general Silvia Fantappiè the aim of the law proposal is to prepare the ground for a renewed relationship between public and private actors, based on the general interest, through the implementation of the concepts of subsidiarity, civic collaboration and the commons. The regional law is also aimed at providing an impulse for the Municipalities in Tuscany for initiating policymaking processes for the regeneration of the urban commons, as a duty of responsibility toward future generations.
This proposal is a step forward in the long-term commitment of the Region of Tuscany to improve and promote participation, cooperation, and civic collaboration principles for the commons and the collaborative economy. Indeed, the Region has promoted the #CollaboraToscana process (2016- 2017). Activated by the Presidency Department of Tuscany (which holds the mandate to innovation and participation) with the aim of drafting a green book outilning a regional policy on sharing and collaborative economy. #CollaboraToscana represents a first experience at regional, national and international level in the co-creation of a public policy on sharing economy through the involvement of local actors. The process is inspired by the principles and methods used in 2011-2014 for the development of the Bologna Regulation and by the drafting process of the Opinion on the local and regional dimension of the Sharing Economy produced by the Committee of the Regions of the European Union. The process, constituted by an intense fieldwork with co-working sessions organized in Florence with the participation of relevant actors of the sharing economy and social innovation ecosystem in Tuscany has had the scientific support of the international research project “Co-Città e Co-Territory”, developed by Labgov, and is curated in his methodological component by Sociolab, with the support of Collaboriamo.
To know more about the process: http://www.labgov.it/governancelabs/collaboratoscana/
Una proposta di legge su Beni comuni e Cittadinanza attiva è stata illustrata il 25 luglio 2017 in Consiglio regionale della Regione Toscana. Il testo rappresenta il primo caso di legge regionale a trattare il tema dei beni comuni, intesi non singolarmente, ma come categoria.
Image Source: Regione Toscana, http://www.regione.toscana.it/
When talking about the sharing economy, its legislative dimension is always a burning issue. In this context, in recent times the regulation of the so-called home restaurant has been high on the agenda, especially in Italy. But what is it the home restaurant?
As defined on the Home Restaurant website, “the Home Restaurant is the opportunity given to anyone who loves to stay in the kitchen to turn their house and their own kitchen in a restaurant occasionally open for friends, acquaintances and strangers (travelers especially) who will have the chance to experience the original kitchen of the places frequented regularly or during a trip.” In this way, private citizens can organize paid dinners in their house through an online platform.
The trend started in 2006 with the guerrilla restaurants in New York, and then spread in 2009 in the UK. Thanks to social networks, the phenomenon has spread like wildfire, leading to the birth of the Supper Club of New York, the Cuban “particular houses” and the Home Restaurants, realities that show us how the kitchen passion can turn into a real business while respecting the law of each country. The Home Restaurant offers the added value of territory discovery, making it possible to experience typical recipes made with local products, and directly cooked at home by grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters and brothers who turn into chefs and offer opportunities to meet, exchange, swap ideas, and eat in the fullest respect of tradition.
Faced with these new trends, traditional restaurants have been highly critical, considering the home restaurants as unfair competition. Instead, those who support the service believe there is nothing disloyal, and that home restaurants promote competition, the main engine of the business-initiative system on which liberal economies are based. Restaurants are public places: according to Italian law, this means that they are places open to the public, where business activities take place with the aim of providing services to the public itself. Anyone can access them freely and make use of the services provided. Homes are just homes, closed to the public, and since they are not public exercises, they are not subject to the same rules restaurants have to respect. To those who claim that home restaurants expose people to the risk of food poisoning, the supporters of the service reply underlying that FIPE data (Italian Federation of Public Concerns) show that the risk of poisoning in a restaurant is twice as much as the risk in a house, and in both cases the risk is minimal.
In Italy, the heavy critiques and attacks to the formula of the home restaurant coming from the traditional services have brought to the definition of a specific bill (the Ddl. AC-3258) on the discipline of the restaurant business in private houses, presented at the Chamber of Deputies and approved with 326 votes in favor (and only 23 negative votes) on January 17th 2017. While the next step, the discussion and approval at the Senate, will take a long time, the bill is already triggering controversy and polemics.
What does it propose?
- First of all, the home restaurant activity is considered an occasional activity and, for this reason, it may not bill more than 5 thousand euro per year, nor serve a seating capacity of over 500 units per calendar year;
- It introduces the obligation to rely on dedicated digital platforms to interact with potential customers, and, above all, the mandatory payment through electronic systems to prevent tax evasion (phone reservations and cash payments are not allowed);
- A requirement that has caused much discussion is the mandatory online presentation of the SCIA, a declaration for starting the commercial activity;
- In addition, a health certification (hygienic sanitary certification – HACCP) is required, as well as the stipulation of a home insurance that covers the risks connected with the activity;
- The “kitchen operators” must also meet the integrity requirements of Article 71 of Legislative Decree 59/2010 (the absence of criminal convictions for various offenses);
- Approved also the quibble ratified in the article 5: “the home restaurant business cannot be exercised in residential real estate unities in which tourists’ accommodation activities in a non-business form or rental activities for periods of less than thirty days are exercised”; the article expresses the clear will to break the combo “social eating-Airbnb”.
The bill has been met with different reactions: from one side the FIPE and the Fiepet Confesercenti called themselves satisfied, since, in their opinion, there is finally an almost complete law ending tax evasion; the law rapporteur, Angelo Senaldi (PD), defines the law “a necessary intervention that aims to regulate a sector, that of restaurants in private houses, which is developing exponentially in the wake of the broader law sharing economy. It aims to protect both operators and consumers and has been written respecting transparency at its maximum, since payments will be made electronically and then tracked through web platforms that combine the operators providing the catering service to the final customer. It is an innovative legislation, the first in Europe, which tends to boost the sharing economy in line with the European directive”. On the opposite side the home restaurant supporters, led by the founder of the web platform homerestaurant.com, Giambattista Scivoletto, have expressed a clear disappointment towards the bill, claiming that it discourages and slows down both those who are already in the sector and those who wish to enter it, and advantages only the restaurateurs’ lobbies. They consider its approach discriminatory, since it impedes the promotion through private channels such as social networks and favors bureaucratic slowness. Scivoletto criticizes both the registration requirement on dedicated platforms and the electronic payment, which in his opinion “will prevent 85% of likely openings”. Confedilizia, the associations of house owners, is of the same advice and interprets the bill as the “de profundis” of the home restaurant, since it imposes “limitations, prohibitions, restrictions towards a way by which some Italians try to work hard to improve their condition, helping to move an asphyxiated economy like ours”. Therefore, according to the home restaurant supporters, the Parliament has sought to safeguard the FIPE’s interests, often intolerant in terms of openness towards new models of business, even if the European Community had given clear guidelines on this regard. In June 2016, the Commissioner for the Internal Market, Elzbieta Bienkowska, had indeed reminded the State Members of the importance of enhancing and helping the sharing economy to grow, even launching a “European Agenda for the sharing economy” (available here).
Among those who criticize the bill there is Cristiano Rigon, founder of the famous Italian social eating platform Gnammo (with more than 210 thousand users), who was indirectly called into the discussion by the text itself, as guarantor of the activity. He welcomes the fact that there will be a rule regulating the home restaurant business, as this will allow all aspiring chefs to experience the sharing economy without fear of going against the law. Nevertheless, in his opinion, proposing such stringent limits demonstrates that the real nature of the home restaurant has not been understood, since it is not related to the classical restaurant experience and it does not represent a rival but a development for the sector. According to Rigon, it would have been more appropriate to start regulating the entire framework of the sharing economy and only after that looking at more specific sectors. He also criticizes the limit imposed of 5 thousand euros, a peak that goes against the EU dictates suggesting not to put limits to this kind of business models. The same reasoning brings to criticize the prohibition to be a home restaurant if already joining the Airbnb platform. Therefore, while Rigon has distanced himself from those rejecting the full text, he stresses the importance of not blocking the growth of this kind of activities and hopes the Senate will be able to make the legislation simpler.
Now it is up to the Senate, and the hope is that innovation will not be hindered in the process.
Il 17 gennaio 2017 la Camera ha approvato il disegno di legge sugli Home Restaurant. Dopo molte critiche e polemiche soprattutto da parte dei ristoratori tradizionali, il vuoto normativo in cui si trovava questo tipo di servizio è stato riempito con la proposta del Ddl AC-3258. Tuttavia la legge non trova tutti concordi. Se per alcuni è stata finalmente normata un’attività che rischiava di alimentare l’evasione fiscale e lo si è fatto nel rispetto delle indicazioni europee; per altri invece le direttive europee non sono state propriamente seguite e la proposta corre il rischio di penalizzare duramente l’Home Restaurant a favore delle lobby dei ristoratori. Ora la parola passa al Senato che valuterà il ddl e stabilirà se snellirlo o meno.
 The guerrilla restaurants, born as a protest of some chefs dismissed from great restaurants in London and New York, decided to serve great food at the cost of production. They are unconventional and anti-crisis places that at the beginning took advantage of the simultaneous presence on the square of many unemployed great chefs.
 A supper club is a traditional dining establishment that also functions as a social club.
The topic of the sharing economy is gaining more and more attention at global level. Many institutions, governments, experts and also the private sector are increasingly questioning about its impact and how to regulate it in order to not suffocate its development and favor the achievement of its full economic potential, by promoting a flexible environment for innovation. The issue is quite controversial since there is no certainty about its future development and direction. Some underline how it opens to the hope of a better tomorrow, windfall of benefits and economic growth; others point at how it will replicate capitalistic models and reproduce current inequalities, amplifying them.
The Cost of Non-Europe in the Sharing Economy.
Recently, the European Parliament has drawn up a detailed report analyzing the economic, social and legal challenges of the European Sharing Economy, highlighting both the benefits achievable through European action and the cost of the lack of action in this field. The report, The Cost of Non-Europe in the Sharing Economy: Economic, Social and Legal Challenges and Opportunities stresses the importance to identify clear criteria for a good definition by analyzing and compuonding the existing definitions. Thus, it defines the sharing economy as “the use of digital platforms or portals to reduce the scale for viable hiring transactions or viable participation in consumer hiring market (i.e. ‘sharing’ in the sense of hiring an asset) and thereby reduce the extent to which assets are under-utilized”. The research estimates the potential economic gain related to a better use of capacities (otherwise under-used) in €572 billion in annual consumption across the EU-28. The costs that the sharing economy can replace go from €1.100 per year in Bulgaria, to €14.600 in Luxemburg, while in Italy the amount is €7.200. Yet, the research warns on how this esteem is just potential since some barriers could prevent the full achievement of benefits and reduce the value of potential increased use to up to €18 billion in short-term and up to €134 billion in the medium or longer term, depending on the scale of regulatory obstacles.
By date, many EU Member States have looked for legal solutions, (in Italy e.g. the Parliamentary Intergroup for Innovation has just presented a legislative proposal open to comments till the end of May). Yet, the necessary balance between technological innovation and fair competition seems to be not already reached, since some solutions tend towards an excessive regulation, others to excessive simplification. In general, two approaches can be identified among the Member States: a more top-down governmental control and a bottom-up regulation or self-regulation through reputation. The report supposes that a mix of the two will probably be the best solution. The regulatory frameworks of course might support or inhibit the growth of the sharing economy, and related obstacles identified are: 1. outright or effective bans on sharing economy platforms; 2. regulatory costs which deter self-employment; 3. regulatory costs which deter marginal transactions; 4. inconsistencies or idiosyncrasies in intellectual property rules.
Apart from the regulatory frameworks the research recognizes other six barriers. One is related to the digital access and skills, but with the growing smartphone penetration it will rapidly lose importance. Also the physical barriers to participation in the sharing economy are significant, even if conquerable by new business models. Third point are the consumer preferences for ownership, followed by labour market obstacles, such as low mobility, sticky wage demands, technical or social skills mismatches, that will inhibit the growth of the sharing economy. Another key challenge is the need to establish trust, achievable through different strategies such as insurance, prior scrutiny before participants in the market start using the platform and ratings after the use of the platform. Finally, tax and other policy choices (not intended to affect the sharing economy) might still affect its growth in each economy.
To overcome these barriers and realize the economic potential of the sharing economy, the document questions the next steps that have to be taken at EU level, giving some recommendations, resulted from a deep analysis of the national interventions (in particular for the cases of accommodation and transportation). First of all it is necessary to define at European level what constitutes a professional activity exercised on a sharing economy platform and what does not, establishing clear criteria to determine to which legal category digital platforms belong. Second, to improve regulations applied to sharing economy platforms, setting common rules and acting progressively starting from sectors that clearly need for a new legal framework (e.g. passenger transport). Third, to mitigate social exclusion, in terms of reputation, tolerating a degree of social exclusion (laissez faire approach), or establishing a right to a reputational Year Zero, or regulating reputational scoring so that only socially desirable exclusions occur, or also creating community platforms where reputation can be rebuilt. Next recommendation is to deal whit the potential market power of sharing economy platforms, avoiding thinking that all the platforms will become monopolies and proposing specific suggestions (such as relying upon market forces and innovation to undermine market power, or developing the Single Market to maximize the size of the market…). Last point is to apply labour market regulation to sharing economy platforms, without altering them to include sharing economy providers, but considering people working for providers as self-employed and encouraging platforms to supply other benefits besides cash remuneration. This point includes sharing economy service providers in the scope of the general rules applicable to self-employment. Lastly the document touches also other fields where policy adaptations might be required to contribute to maximising the potential of the sharing economy: data protection rules, manufacturing sectors, planning, and intellectual property rules.
This document clearly focuses on the platforms levels, giving us back a comprehensive picture of the current state of development of the sharing economy in the EU-28, and analyzing how Member State are dealing with it. It suggests the importance to know the phenomenon and to let it fully integrate in the society itself, balancing the creative freedom for business with the necessary regulatory protections. The research marks out the path to follow, even if the future direction of the sharing economy itself remains uncertain, by suggesting Member State the courses of action and to avoid dangerous veers of the phenomenon. The great penetration that the sharing economy is having is imposing to reflect about it in an integrated and structured way, not only at national level but overall at European level. The document does not deal with other aspect of the sharing economy, more socially oriented and related to bottom-up processes, but it can be seen as a kind of guidelines that tries to give precise indications to extract the maximum potential from the sharing economy, gain from the recirculation of goods and the sharing of services.
All’inizio dell’anno il Parlamento Europeo ha presentato il rapporto The Cost of Non-Europe in the Sharing Economy: Economic, Social and Legal Challenges and Opportunities, in cui analizza le sfide economiche, sociali e legali che la Sharing Economy Europea si trova ad affrontare, misurando le potenzialità dell’economia della condivisione e proponendo le problematiche ad essa connesse. A fronte, infatti, di una stima di €572 miliardi di valore potenzialmente raggiungibile in Europa attraverso pratiche di condivisione, il rapporto mette in luce la necessità di regolarla per superare una serie di barriere che ne potrebbero ostacolare lo sviluppo e impedire di raggiungere le cifre calcolate. Il lavoro è estremamente dettagliato ed offre a tutti gli stati membri suggerimenti e raccomandazioni che si pongono da vere e proprie linee guida per realizzare il massimo potenziale dalle piattaforme della sharing economy.
The long route of the CO-Bologna project – the cooperation agreement between the Municipality of Bologna and Fondazione del Monte of Bologna and Ravenna to deepen and continue in the innovative process and administrative trial started in 2011, aiming to promoting cooperative forms of governance of the commons – is about to restart.
The forthcoming seminar “Bologna Città Collaborativa – il Regolamento sui beni comuni urbani” will indeed offer the opportunity to take on the the state of implementation of the regulations of urban commons from a legal – administrative point of view .
The seminar will take place at the Fondazione del Monte of Bologna and Ravenna on March 22nd, 2016, from 9:30 to 13:30.
Click here for the program of the event.
Il progetto CO-Bologna – un patto di collaborazione tra Comune di Bologna e Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna per approfondire e proseguire nel processo di innovazione e sperimentazione amministrativa avviato nel 2011 e diretto a promuovere la collaborazione per la gestione dei beni comuni – riparte con il seminario “Bologna Città Collaborativa – il Regolamento sui beni comuni urbani”. L’evento si terrà il 22 marzo ed ha come obiettivo fare il punto sullo stato di implementazione del Regolamento sui beni comuni urbani sotto il profilo giuridico-amministrativo.
Qui il programma dell’evento.
LOOKING FOR A WAY TO REGULATE SHARING SERVICES. ONLINE VACATION RENTAL LEGISLATION SB 593
The regulation issue in the general sharing economy debate is gaining more and more momentum. New disrupting services are spreading, posing the question of their categorization between personal and professional provision and related forms of regulation. If the service is not clearly ascribable to a personal or professional level can be very challenging to apply the right rules. In addition, the new peer-to-peer business models have to face existing structures of regulation designed for old services. This misalignment can impede the economic growth and discourage the development of innovative and useful solutions, but at the same time it can favor situations of tax evasion, privacy violations, and unfair competition.
For this reason, make a reasoning at governmental level is becoming essential and that is exactly what has been done thanks to the proposal of Senator McGuire in USA. He presented an Online Vacation Rental Legislation, SB 593, that found great support among the Senate Governance and Finance Committee and the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. This legislation covers the hospitality sector, one of the most critical area, since entire cities are experiencing one-way sharing in which online vacation rental businesses (OVRB’s) share all the benefits of a local community’s services but not the responsibilities. The case is particularly strong in California where thousands of rental units are being converted from permanent housing for residents to hotels for tourist, often in violation of local zoning laws and avoiding taxes. Online hosting platforms that manage online vacation rental, like AirBnb, currently operate with little accountability and local governments has to afford costs and expenses related to this growing industry.
In this frame many conflicts are emerging, because the short-term rental (especially in case of management companies that rent hundreds of apartments in the same neighborhood) impacts on the local life in terms of congested street, lack of parking, loss of affordable units for citizens and loss of revenue that could be invested in local services. The bill “Thriving Communities and Sharing Economy Act” tries to stop property owners from using AirBnb and similar platforms to convert scarce permanent housing for residents into hotels for tourists while avoiding the traditional taxes that hotel have to pay. It aims to empower cities to enforce local policies, ensuring that their laws are followed. Another goal is to force short-term rental companies to make disclosures as required under local law (providing address of host rental, amount of nights stayed, and amount paid by the visitor). The Senator’s proposition simply try to reinforce local laws asking that OVRB’s follow them. The idea is very simple: where there are local ordinances that allow vacation rental the bill will assist local jurisdictions in regulating and collecting the Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT) as for traditional hotels; where vacation rental is illegal the bill will reinforce the local ordinance prohibiting OVRB’s from making a rental. In addition, local jurisdictions may choose to have OVRBs collect the taxes and remit them, cities can opt out of their information disclosure process at their discretion and use the TOT to found critical services in the communities, such as road improvements, fire and police services, public school support, safe neighborhood.
In some cities like Portland, New York and San Francisco, Airbnb is already providing information that SB 593 required, and in the case of Portland there is an agreement to use the TOT for public utility services. The bill has been received with great enthusiasm as show by the words of Matt Cate, the Executive Director of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC): “CSAC greatly appreciates Senator McGuire’s leadership in making sure local communities have the ability to regulate on-line hosting platforms. In particular, we support the Senator’s legislation to ensure cities and counties can collect transient occupancy taxes that fund critical services in our communities.”
This bill marks an important step forward in terms of regulation of sharing economy services, at least in the field of hospitality, delegating more regulatory responsibility to the marketplaces and platforms while preserving some government oversight. It ensures that the innovations carried on by the sharing economy could really spread for the benefit of citizens, showing that government, local authorities and sharing economy platforms can truly work together to guarantee that all legal requirements are met.
LabGov is deep involved in the analysis of the sharing economy context. See: http://www.shareable.net/blog/interviewed-professor-christian-iaione-on-the-city-as-commons; http://commonstransition.org/the-city-as-commons-with-professor-christian-iaione/; http://www.labgov.it/xxi-century-cocentury/
Con la diffusione sempre più massiccia dei servizi di sharing economy si pone la questione di trovare forme di regolamentazione adatte, che da un lato non soffochino e limitino il loro sviluppo, e dall’altro non li lascino completamente de-regolamentati. I settori della mobilità e dell’ospitalità sono al momento i più critici e nell’ottica di arginare contesti di illegalità o impatto eccessivo sulle comunità locali il Senatore McGuire (California) ha presentato una proposta di legge ad hoc. L’Online Vacation Rental Legislation, SB 593, mira a normare l’azione delle piattaforme di ospitalità online aiutando le giurisdizioni locali a gestirle laddove l’affitto a breve termine è consentito e rafforza le ordinanze di divieto laddove è invece proibito. La proposta di legge ha riscosso grande successo al Senato e segna un passo importante in termini di regolamentazione nell’integrazione dei nuovi servizi di sharing senza che danneggino il mercato e le comunità, ma a loro vantaggio.