EU
[Credit: François Genon on Unsplash]

EU rules edge closer after European Parliament vote

Europe: EU regulation on data collection and sharing relating to short-term accommodation rental services has moved a step closer after a vote in the European Parliament this week.

It follows the news in November that the European Council and European Parliament had reached a provisional agreement on a draft regulation to “promote a balanced tourism ecosystem”. 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.

Once approved, the new regulation will apply 24 months [two years] after coming into effect.

The provisional agreement has now been endorsed but it is still necessary for both the EU Council and European Parliament to formally adopt the legislation.

In a statement, Airbnb said that it welcomed the European Parliament vote and that the new EU-wide rules would be a “watershed” moment for the company and the short-term rental industry.

The company said: “Airbnb’s priority is to expand our work with cities and governments to support the families who host and help tackle local concerns such as housing. We want to be good partners and will take the opportunity of new EU rules to kickstart a new chapter in our collaborations with governments across the EU.”

Meanwhile, eu travel tech, which represents travel tech companies in Europe, said that the newly established legislative framework would serve as a “solid foundation to promote greater clarity and transparency concerning the responsibilities of all stakeholders in the STR sector”.

A statement by eu travel tech read: “The regulation’s success pivots on the effective implementation and interoperability of this digital infrastructure. The smooth functioning of the SDEPs will be, in fact, key for all stakeholders, hosts, platforms and competent authorities, to fulfil their respective obligations.

“In this regard, we believe that adopting a standardised approach to the technical requirements underpinning the SDEPs will be essential in reducing the administrative burden for both member states and platforms and, ultimately, in order to meet the objective of streamlining data sharing across the EU.

“We would welcome the opportunity to work in close collaboration to ensure the development of efficient and interoperable solutions for the SDEPs. To this end, eu travel tech members are currently working on a common industry position on the detailed API and technical principles and standards that should underpin the set-up of the SDEPs, with the hope that these principles will help guide discussions on implementation.

“We are confident that, working together, we can ensure the seamless adoption of the common technical solutions that will be essential to the swift implementation of the rules,” it added.

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