EU wants Airbnb to share booking data with authorities

Airbnb and other short-term accommodation rental companies will have to share data on the number of people using their platforms under proposed EU rules, the European Commission said today, in a light-touch approach to regulating this sector.

The EU executive’s proposal comes as popular tourist destinations such as Paris, Venice and Barcelona blame Airbnb for worsening housing shortages by pushing away low-income residents.

But smaller towns and rural areas want to attract more tourists through online rental platforms, which account for a quarter of all tourist accommodation in the 27-nation European Union.

The Commission’s proposal marks an effort to tackle the patchwork of different national laws across the EU regulating Airbnb and its rivals, while trying to balance the interests of cities and rural areas.

“The proposed new rules will help improve transparency on the identification and activity of short-term accommodation hosts, as well as the rules with which they must comply, and will facilitate the registration of hosts,” said the Commission in a press release.

“They will also tackle the current fragmentation in how online platforms share data and ultimately help prevent illegal listings. Overall, this will contribute to a more sustainable tourism ecosystem and support its digital transition,” he said.

Reuters reported exclusively on the Commission’s proposal on November 3.

“These proposals provide a framework for Airbnb to expand our collaborations with governments and make it easier for ordinary Europeans to share their homes and follow the rules,” said Georgina Browes, European public policy manager at Airbnb.

Ms Browes said that by taking a more harmonized approach to regulation, industry and governments could work better together to improve access to data, increase transparency and tackle disproportionate local rules.

Under the proposed rules, Airbnb and its peers will have to share data on the number of guests and nights rented with public authorities, once a month, in an automated way.

Authorities will monitor their programs and may put in place penalties for non-compliance.

The proposal will need to be approved by EU countries and EU lawmakers before it can become law.

The Commission’s proposal is similar to a data-sharing agreement that Airbnb concluded with the EU statistical office Eurostat two years ago, allowing public authorities to access data published quarterly on the number of people using its platform and the number of nights booked.

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