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Report: EU Set to Agree on Light Touch Rules for Airbnb

European Union (EU) countries and European Parliament lawmakers are reportedly expected to reach an agreement on light touch rules for Airbnb next week.

The proposed regulations will require short-term accommodation rental services like Airbnb to provide data on the number of users and nights stayed to national authorities, with penalties for non-compliance, Reuters reported Friday (Nov. 10), citing unnamed sources.

These rules aim to address the patchwork of different national laws across the EU that regulate companies like Airbnb, according to the report. The European Commission (EC) proposed these rules last year to establish a unified approach to regulating short-term rental services in the EU.

The upcoming agreement is significant because it contrasts with the EU’s recent tough stance on Big Tech companies, the report said. The EU has been implementing stricter regulations to rein in the power of tech giants and combat illegal online content.

The agreement on EU-wide rules for Airbnb is seen as a watershed moment for the short-term rental industry, per the report. Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer, told Reuters: “We hope they will serve as a global example of clear rules that give guidance to platforms and authorities on how to share data and make proportionate rules work for everyone.”

However, there are concerns from cities that are popular with tourists, like Paris, Venice and Barcelona, which blame Airbnb for exacerbating housing shortages, according to the report. Spain has proposed additional measures, such as allowing cities to ban Airbnb in certain areas and imposing registration fees.

Airbnb has previously struck an agreement with the EU statistics office Eurostat that allows public authorities to access quarterly published data on the number of people using the platform and the number of nights they booked, PYMNTS reported in November 2022. 

However, pointing to the “limits and ineffectiveness of the soft tools such as voluntary agreements,” the EC made the case that a legal mandate creates a better instrument for data sharing that is compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The short-term rental business has fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels and will “continue growing supply by raising awareness around hosting, making it easier to get started and improving the overall experience for hosts,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said on Nov. 1 during the company’s quarterly earnings call.