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Airbnb and other platforms sign agreement with EU on data exchange

Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group and Tripadvisor have reached a data sharing agreement with the European Union. Data on the number of customers using short-term accommodations and the number of overnight stays will be published through the EU's statistical office, Eurostat.

Shared data: number of guests and overnight stays

The agreement represents a turning point in the short-term rental market in the European Union (EU). For the first time, an EU body will make key data from the Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and Tripadvisor platforms available to the public and local authorities to ensure the proper development of collaborative economy activities.

Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, responsible for the Economy, said :

This important milestone will enable Eurostat to support public authorities around Europe that seek data on collaborative short-term accommodation services. They will in the future be able to use these newly available data for informed policymaking. For the first time, Eurostat will cooperate directly with industry to make reliable data covering the entire EU available in a coherent manner.

As part of the agreement, each platform undertakes to share independently, and on an continuous basis, the number of nights booked and the number of guests. The data will be aggregated at the level of municipalities. It has also been agreed to respect the privacy of guests and hosts by sharing data in accordance with applicable European legislation. The data will not identify citizens or owners. As for the publication of the data, they will be validated and aggregated by Eurostat. The data will be available to all Member States as well as for many individual regions and cities by combining the information obtained from the platforms. The first statistics are expected to be published in the second half of 2020.

The controversy

For its part, the EU is aware of the accelerating growth of collaborative short-term rental housing and maintains an ongoing exchange with local regulators. In 2016, the European Commission issued Guidelines to EU countries on how existing EU rules apply to the collaborative economy. A series of workshops in 2017 and 2018 identified policy principles and good practices specifically on collaborative short-term accommodation services. The recently signed agreement therefore aims to address the challenges posed by the rapid development of the segment, particularly in the most popular tourist destinations. A survey conducted by Eurostat in 2019 showed that 21% of EU citizens have used a website or application to organise someone else's accommodation and 8% have done the same for transport services.

The collaborative economy offers many opportunities for consumers as well as micro-entrepreneurs and SMEs, as cities nowadays seek to strike a balance between promoting tourism and maintaining the integrity of local communities. In some European cities, collaborative tourism rentals are accused of creating problems of coexistence with neighbours, rising rent prices through real estate speculation, and unfair competition with regulated accommodation.

As a result, at the end of last year, eight major European cities called on the EU to revise the rules on short-term rentals, and last week the total number of cities calling on the EU to better regulate tourist accommodation rental platforms increased to 22, including Amsterdam, Athens, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Bologna, Bordeaux, Brussels, Cologne, Krakow, Florence, Frankfurt, Helsinki, London, Milan, Munich, Paris, Porto, Prague, Utrecht, Valencia, Warsaw and Vienna.

For its part, in early 2020, Airbnb set out its proposals for a European regulator for digital services in a series of letters to the EU and city leaders, which included the company's measures on transparency, taxation and trust.

Figures in major EU cities

Collected data shows that among major European cities, London has the highest number of active rentals, which is consistent with Eurostat statistics on the collaborative economy which revealed that 22% of individuals in the UK used a website or dedicated app to organise a hosting service between individuals. Among the EU Member States with significant percentages were Luxembourg (37%), Ireland (31%), Malta (26%) and France (23%). Other cities such as Paris and Rome also concentrate a significant number of active rentals on the Airbnb and Vrbo platforms.

 

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