This week Dutch politician and European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes gave us her perspective on the sharing economy and recent taxi protests. She believes that there is a 'valley' start-up culture in Europe and it needs greater support. On her blog she responds to widespread strikes and attempts to ban or limit taxi app services across Europe.
She recognizes that this is a fearful time for cab drivers stating "it is right that we feel sympathy for people who face big changes in their lives" but "we cannot run away from these debates either".
Kroes believes that Europe needs more entrepreneurs to create jobs and growth. These entrepreneurs understand that services can no longer be designed around the producers, but need to empower the consumers. She is concerned that if Europe does not embrace entrepreneurship Europe will be know as "the place that used to be the future, but instead has become the world's tourism playground and nursing home". Kroes states that the disruptive force of technology is a good thing. "It eliminates some jobs and it changes others. But it improves most jobs and creates new ones as well".
She also warns that sharing entrepreneurs need to follow the rules and pay taxes but also sheds some interesting light on the role of regulators:
She concludes with a plea for Europeans to stop running away and face facts: "digital innovations like taxi apps are here to stay. We need to work with them not against them."
Check out the rest of her blog post on her website and let us know what you think. It's certainly one of the more in favor responses to the sharing economy by a regulator thus far. Is she right? Are regulators running from digital technology instead of embracing it's potential? Is there a way for both apps and taxi companies to live in harmony?