The European Commission has reached an agreement with Airbnb, Booking, Expedia and Tripadvisor, which means these companies will provide the European Union (EU) with data on the collaborative economy platforms to help cities respond more effectively to the impact of these short-stay accommodation services.
The purpose of the landmark agreement is to provide access to reliable information on holiday and short-term stays in accommodation of this type – generally private residences rented by their owners through these websites – so public authorities can better understand the development of the collaborative economy and support evidence-based policies, the Commission said on Thursday.
Under the new agreement, these companies will share data on the number of nights booked and the number of guests in a specific location. However, the data doesn’t identify individual citizens or property owners as their privacy is protected under EU laws.
The information will be aggregated by Eurostat, the European Commission’s statistical office, which will validate the data and publish it by countries, regions and cities. The first statistics could be ready in the second half of 2020.
“For the first time we are gaining reliable data that will inform our ongoing discussions with cities across Europe on how to address this new reality in a balanced manner,” said Thierry Breton, commissioner for the internal market.
Tourism is the third-largest sector of the European economy, equivalent to 10.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) and 11.7% of employment in the bloc, and the collaborative economy is steadily gaining ground. According to Eurostat, in 2019, 21% of Europeans had used a website or mobile app to book accommodation.
The boom in short-stay accommodation offered via these collaborative economy platforms is also creating problems for neighbours and rising rental prices in some of Europe’s busiest cities.
Until now, the European Union has not passed legislation in this area. It’s generally local authorities throughout Europe that are adopting their own approaches to tackling problems as they arise.
However, the new Commission is committed to addressing the regulation of these collaborative economy platforms, which affect not only tourism, but also transport and the restaurant business, and also raise concerns about labour protection or taxation.