Commission seals agreement with collaborative platforms

Thierry Breton

The Commission has reached a landmark agreement with Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group and Trip Advisor on data sharing, allowing Eurostat to publish data on short-stay accommodations offered via these platforms across the Union, the EU press service reported. The agreement will for the first time permit access to reliable data about short-stay accommodation offered via these collaborative economy platforms, and will contribute to more complete statistics on tourist accommodation across Europe.

“Tourism is a key economic activity in Europe. Short-term accommodation rentals offer convenient solutions for tourists and new sources of revenue for people. At the same time, there are concerns about impact on local communities. 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,” Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said.

The agreement, signed between each platform and Eurostat, envisages regular and reliable data from the four platforms as shared data will include the number of nights booked and the number of guests, and data will be aggregated at the level of municipalities. Platforms agreed to share data on a continuous basis.

Furthermore, the privacy of citizens, including guests and hosts, will be protected in line with applicable EU legislation. Data will not allow individual citizens or property owners to be identified. The data provided by the platforms will undergo statistical validation and be aggregated by Eurostat. The agency will publish data for all Member States as well as many individual regions and cities by combining the information obtained from the platforms. It is expected that the first statistics could be released in the second half of 2020.

“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," Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni pointed out.

The collaborative economy, also called the sharing economy, covers a great variety of sectors and is rapidly growing across Europe. A survey conducted by Eurostat in 2019 showed that 21% of EU citizens used a website or an app to arrange accommodation from another person and 8% have done the same for transport services. In the tourism sector, the collaborative economy provides many exciting opportunities for citizens as consumers as well as for micro-entrepreneurs and SMEs.

At the same time, its rapid development has led to challenges, particularly in popular tourist destinations. As a result, cities and other communities are seeking to strike a balance between promoting tourism, with the economic benefits it brings, and maintaining the integrity of local communities.

To promote a balanced development of the collaborative economy, the Commission issued Guidelines to EU countries in 2016 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.

In the short-term rental sector, the Commission is also working with cities around Europe to address issues that have arisen as a result of the rapid growth of collaborative short-term accommodation rentals and maintains a continuous exchange with local regulators. These discussions address possible policy actions and good practices for consideration of public authorities and other stakeholders when putting into place policy measures in line with EU law.

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