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All the unresolved political issues in the EU’s short-term rental bill

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EU policymakers are butting heads over the principle of compliance by design, harmonisation of administrative procedures, and implementation deadlines, according to a compromise document on the short-term rental regulation, seen by Euractiv.

The regulation aims to harmonise rules at the EU level on data-sharing by travel platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com to harmonise existing procedures and give national authorities visibility over the work of these companies.

“The Council of the EU is opposed to the compliance by design proposal of the European Parliament and is not fond of having 27 Single Digital Entry Points,” a source close to the file to Euractiv on condition of anonymity.

Green rapporteur Kim van Sparrentak also pointed out these divergences during the Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) meeting on 11 October.

The European Parliament’s text mandates short-term rental companies to “make best efforts to assess whether the information” hosts provide on their platforms is accurate, reliable and complete.

For the EU countries, these provisions are disproportionate and could lead to technical challenges if the host lists from the private and public sectors used to cross-check information are not updated simultaneously.

Standardisation of Single Digital Entry Points

Another point of political disagreement concerns Single Digital Entry Points, a platform where short-term rental companies must deliver the data they collect to competent authorities.

The European Parliament decided to leave the competency to create these platforms to member states when the Council position suggests creating one Single Digital Entry Points managed directly by the Commission.

To make sure the 27 Single Digital Entry Points are standardised, the Parliament’s text obliges the Commission to pass implementing acts.

Yet some questions remain open towards what will happen with the Single Digital Entry Points once the regulation is passed and enforced. It is still unclear if the Commission will keep on updating the standards of the Single Digital Entry Points in the long-term.

Moreover, the Parliament and Commission want to impose on the 27 member states to appoint “national coordinators” responsible and points of contact for the Single Digital Entry Points.

The EU countries want more flexibility, considering that coordinators should be appointed only for member states that “establish or maintain a registration procedure”.

Implementation timelines

The regulation’s entry into force was suggested as two years by the Commission, which the Council confirmed in its version, while Parliament shortened the entry into force to 18 months in its version.

Similarly, there is a disagreement regarding the number of months during which an EU country should retain information provided by hosts which terminated the rental of a unit. EU countries and the Commission agree on 12 months when the Parliament suggests 18 months.

Other political disagreements

In addition, EU governments have a problem with the wording in the MEPs’ mandate that would empower countries to handle housing problems, even though van Sparrentak had to water down these dispositions due to opposition from her conservative colleagues.

First, there is a disagreement towards providing a definition to what an “active host” is. The European Parliament suggested a definition whereas the Council would like this definition to be referred to national legislation.

Secondly, the process by which competent authorities should verify the authenticity and validity of information provided by hosts also created a disagreement between the two institutions.

The Parliament suggested a cumulative sanction, with demands to provide further information linked to possible suspension. The Council opposes this, considering suspension should only happen when further information fails to provide confirmation of authenticity and validity.

Also, the Council version provides for “withdrawal” of renting units for failure to comply with the law, when the Parliament deleted this word, amending to the possibility for the competent authority to “take appropriate further action to prevent the commercialisation of a unit”.

Thirdly, there is a political disagreement on the fact that the European Parliament want to impose that registration procedures are “provided online, free of charge”.

Eventually, the Parliament’s mandate is to impose on short-term rental companies to “ensure the completeness and accuracy of the datasets transmitted to competent authorities”, which is an addition from the Commission draft proposal the Council did not foresee as well.

Next steps

The last technical meeting is taking place on Friday (10 November) and the next political trilogue is set to take place on 15 November.

[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi/Zoran Radosavljevic]

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