EU
Brussels [Unsplash]

Airbnb welcomes “watershed” EU data collection agreement

Europe: The European Council and European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on a draft regulation on data collection and sharing for short-term rental accommodation services across the European Union [ EU ], in a bid to “promote a balanced tourism ecosystem”.

EU countries and lawmakers met on Wednesday for the first time since co-legislators presented their mandates in October. In September, the EU’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection [IMCO] Committee adopted a report on the proposal for regulations on data collection and sharing with 31 votes in favour [none against and one abstention], laying down the framework for the implementation of fair and proportionate rules at a local level.

The proposal for a regulation aims to enhance transparency in the short-term rental sector across the EU, as well as help public authorities appropriately regulate the segment. While online short-term rental platforms and the sharing economy have provided benefits for hosts and tourists respectively, local communities have argued that it has contributed to a shortage of affordable housing and a hike in housing prices in their areas.

Under the terms of the provisional agreement, the new rules will require a unique registration number to be displayed on property websites in order to improve the collection and sharing of data from hosts and online platforms. The data generated will be shared between public administrations across the EU, feeding into tourism statistics and allowing administrations to block illegal rental offerings.

The agreement supports the main objectives of the regulation, as well as introducing a number of improvements, within the relevant provisions of the Digital Services Act and the Services Directive.

Platforms including Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group / Vrbo and TripAdvisor will be required to transmit activity data to the public authorities across the bloc on a monthly basis. “Small and micro” online short-term rental platforms will be required to do so after every three months.

EU member states will create Single Digital Entry Points for the seamless collection and exchange of information. According to the Council, the points will be interoperable and will guarantee data protection.

The new regulation, proposed by the European Commission last year, will only apply 24 months [two years] after coming into effect.

Next, the provisional agreement will have to be endorsed and formally adopted by both the EU Council and European Parliament.

Speaking on a STRz webinar on ‘Leading on advocacy round table: Why your industry needs you’ in September, Viktorija Molnar, acting secretary general of the European Holiday Home Association [EHHA], said that she expected the relevant institutions to pass the new regulations into EU law by December.

Rosana Morillo Rodriguez, acting Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism, said in a press release: “Everybody wins with today’s deal. The new regulation creates a single and easy set of information rules for the platforms and facilitates registration procedures for hosts. More transparency will enhance trust for travellers and help authorities design better tourism policies, to ensure social and environmental sustainability, while helping to control illegal activity.

In response to the announcement, Carlos Pérez-Lanzac de Lorca, board member of FEVITUR and founder of Vitur Summit, called the update “a great advancement for online platforms” on LinkedIn.

Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Airbnb, called the EU-wide rules “a watershed moment for Airbnb and our industry”.

He said: “The new rules will serve as a global example of how to regulate short-term rentals, and give clear guidance to platforms and authorities on important matters, including how to share data and make local rules work for everyone.

“With clear rules of the road in place, our priority is to expand our work with cities and governments to protect housing, support everyday families who host and contribute to a sustainable tourism future for Europe. We want to be good partners and take this opportunity to kickstart a new chapter in our collaborations.

“We will continue to be proactive in our work with you and your teams across the region to make the new EU rules a success for everyone,” he added.

In a statement, the European Holiday Home Association said it too welcomed the deal on the Commission’s proposal for regulation: “We hope that the EU data-sharing framework for short-term rentals will lead to more justified, proportionate and non-discriminatory short-term rental rules – rules that respect the principles of the Services Directive.”

Máire Ní Mhurchú, CEO of the Irish Self-Catering Federation [ISCF], said: “We welcome the register for STR legislation but the lack of clarity on planning is a serious block to implementation. The ISCF calls for an immediate removal of the rent pressure zones legislation, which have caused serious damage to the tourism eco-system in Ireland with the price of hotel bed nights spiralling upwards.:

STRz will continue to gather more reaction to the EU announcement over the coming days.

Be in the know.

Subscribe to our newsletter »