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Tourism is back – and so is the burning of cities with platform-driven tourism.
For once, that anger is aimed not at the platforms themselves, but at Brussels. Short-term rental platforms like Airbnb had a long-awaited EU rulebook Pushed back in the summer – fueled the impatience of a group of European cities and parliamentarians. They claim that such rentals negatively affect the affordability and livability of cities, and delays add to the problem.
In a letter dated 14 July, seen by Politico and signed by dozens of MEPs and more than 10 European cities, the European Commission was urged to “move urgently” with its so-called. short term rental initiative,
Conversely, Airbnb has a big summer – though it can be annoying for cities – that could help put the issue on the Commission’s list of priorities. The block is otherwise heavily occupied by the so-called horizontal law, such as digital competition And content moderationraising concerns that more region-specific laws will continue to take a back seat.
a contentious debate
With the new rule book, the EU executive is set to plunge into a debate that has played out for years mostly within cities, courts and EU member states.
An EU-wide survey conducted from September to December last year by the Commission to prepare for the initiative showed how controversial the topic is – the survey found 5,696 responses, an unusually high number. In addition to platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com, a coalition of cities also weighed in, calling itself a coalition of European cities on short-term holiday rentals. Among the cities were major tourist destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris and Berlin.
Since then, the timing of the expected rulebook has been in flux. It was originally included on the commission’s agenda for 1 June – but has been pushed back. It reappeared on a draft of the commission’s agenda, seen by Politico on 12 October, but was later scrapped.
Such ongoing delays are testing the nerves of a broad coalition of European lawmakers – including MEPs from the Greens, S&D, The Left, EPP and Renew – as well as cities and urban policy lobbying groups such as EuroCities.
“We are extremely concerned that the proposal is not currently included in the list of initiatives planned to begin by December,” lawmakers and cities wrote in a July 14 letter directed to Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager and Commissioner Thierry Breton. Short-term rentals have already affected housing prices, he wrote, and the current cost woes add fuel to the fire.
“The current rise in the cost of living, rent and house prices is putting many European families under financial pressure,” the letter read.
The signatories of the letter, and other observers, suspect that the Commission needs some time to figure out how the rulebook will relate to other EU laws, such as the Content-Operation Digital Services Act and the bloc’s data protection rules, General Data Protection Regulation,
Initially, there were calls to address short-term rental platforms in the DSA. One of the catchphrases of the proposal was: “What is illegal, must be illegal offline.” Part of the debate around short-term rental platforms is whether listings that violate local regulations should be considered “illegal content” that the platform should deal with. In its response, the aforementioned European Cities Coalition advocated such action.
But it didn’t happen. “We talked to the commission [and asked]: are you gonna deal with this in the DSA, or will someone lex specialis As a plug-in on DSA? He said: ‘No, don’t handle it in the DSA, because it’s horizontal regulation,’ said Kim van Sparentek, the Greens MEP in charge of the Parliament’s report on affordable housing. “But then you have to deliver it, of course.”
Another point of contention is cities’ access to data from short-term rental platforms. Cities claimed in their response that they needed to have access to all types of data (such as host identification data, number of beds in accommodation and number of nights rented) in order to enforce local regulations – but the platforms did not Said that these requests were “inconsistent” with the GDPR.
Van Sperentk is on the side of cities in this: “The problem with Airbnb at the moment is that there is no data sharing obligation, which makes it impossible to enforce. There are already too many cities with regulation[s] On short-term rentals… but they cannot enforce it as there is no compulsion to share the data that may be required.”
Asked for a comment, a spokesman for the commission said the commission plans to adopt an initiative in the fall, focusing “on transparency issues in the short-term rental sector”.
Airbnb said in a statement that 4 out of 10 EU hosts say hosting on Airbnb helps them cope with rising cost of living. “We continue to support the EU’s work to update our regulations and unlock the benefits of hosting and the Single Market for more Europeans,” the platform said.
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