It’s 2030 – what does the collaborative economy look like in Europe? Have things changed for the better or worse for platform workers? This future-gazing analysis by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre imagines four potential scenarios that explore challenges for platform labour, as well as how the collaborative economy could contribute to public service provision and social innovation.
The four scenarios constructed by researchers Bock, Bontoux, Figueiredo do Nascimento, and Szczepanikova, are positioned along two dimensions – whether they are more or less community-oriented, combined with the relative strength of EU governance. Below, the key characteristics of each future scenario are briefly described:
1. Strong Community Spirit / EU divergence:
- Community-owned/cooperative platforms shape the collaborative economy, emphasising transparency and self-regulation.
- Presence of a pervasive self-organising collaborative ethos within a largely conventional economic context and with a surge in local initiatives.
2. Strong Community Spirit / EU Convergence:
- Public authorities push for the optimum use of resources and investment in labour and expertise to build a sustainable future.
- A clear legal framework provides the boundaries for an EU-centred collaborative economy with active government involvement.
3. An Individualistic Society / EU Convergence:
- EU governance pushes for unfettered market access and technology as a way towards a more resource-efficient future.
- A large variety of commercial platforms thrive in global competition and in an increasingly polarised, micro-entrepreneur society.
4. An Individualist Society / EU Divergence:
- Weak governance combined with corporate power puts pressure on citizens to find diverse ways to ensure livelihood.
- Large, commercial platforms dominate the collaborative economy in a highly competitive environment, affected by lack of trust