Travel platform bill advances in EU Parliament but sticking points remain

Lawmakers in the European Parliament have hashed out agreements on some less controversial parts of the proposal to regulate travel tech platforms, but differences remain around critical aspects such as the administrative procedures and the ‘compliance by design’ concept.

This EU regulation aims to create EU-wide harmonised rules on data-sharing by short-term rental platforms to give means for member states to take appropriate actions when regulating the industry.

During the Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee meeting on Tuesday (18 July), the rapporteur, Green MEP Kim van Sparrentak, said that “negotiations are well underway” and thanked the “constructive approach” of the representatives of the other political groups working on the file.

At the same time, compromise amendments circulated on Monday, seen by EURACTIV, and the different public positions MEPs took during the committee debate, signal that there still remain some contentious points.

These will need to be solved if the legislative proposal is to be voted on 17 September in the Internal Market Committee, as currently planned.

Administrative procedures

The rapporteur stated again that she wishes to interlink the registration procedures and authorisation schemes.

Although she said during the committee hearings that this provision is in no way an attempt “to regulate market access”, the centre-right MEP Tom Vandenkedelaere repeated his party’s opposition.

For now, shadow rapporteurs agreed to make registration procedures “free of charge for the host”, which was an amendment supported by the centre-right party and the centre-left lawmaker Josianne Cutajar, who is the opinion rapporteur for the transport and tourism committee.

An agreement was also reached to accept both online and offline applications for registration procedures to include the “less-digitally skilled and the elderly”.

Compliance by design

van Sparrentak has been pushing for platforms to demand hosts proof of their administrative authorisation to rent a unit when they register on a short-term rental platform.

Yet, Vandenkedelaere expressed his opposition to this request, suggesting that debates should be continued on this initiative.

The debate is particularly sticky here as it touches upon two opposing views on the Digital Services Act (DSA), a key piece of legislation that regulates the responsibilities of organisations operating in the online realm.

Progressive MEPs want to introduce new provisions and restrictions on top of the DSA, considering it is a horizontal piece of legislation to which new restrictions can be linked.

By contrast, centre-right lawmakers consider it does not make sense to have horizontal legislation if it is derogated.

They see this possibility as potentially giving place to more derogation, eventually leading to an overburdening of legislation. Thus, they consider the “compliance by design” limitations as conflicting with the spirit of the EU digital law.

Digital Single Entry Points

During the parliamentary hearing, Amaryllis Verhoeven, the head of unit for digital transformation of industry at the European Commission, repeated her opposition to the centre-right proposition to create one Single Entry Point for the whole EU, managed by the Commission instead of the EU countries.

Yet, the centre-right seems to continue pushing in this direction, which has also been the position of major short-term rental platforms like Airbnb, or Trivago.

No compromise has been reached at this point. Whatever MEPs decide, Verhoeven made clear that the Commission is currently working with the member states to make the 27 Single Entry Points “fully interoperable”.

Verification by competent authorities

The question to which extent to empower national, regional and local authorities has been partly resolved.

The centre-left wanted stronger powers for competent authorities when verifying hosts’ information, namely that they would have the capacity to withdraw a registration number or could impose penalties.

However, these references were removed from the text. During the hearing, social-democrat Christel Schaldemose said they “can live with that” as long as authorities are empowered to rectify requested information.

A middle ground was found in empowering authorities to “take appropriate further action to prevent the commercialisation of a unit” should a host repeatedly fail to comply with local rules.

Debate is still ongoing on whether to water down “requirements” for platforms into “requests” as part of the compromise.

Other provisions

Compromises have been found in the articles concerning information to be provided by hosts and obligations on online short-term rental platforms to transmit activity data and registration numbers to public authorities.

Also, the section on the definition has almost reached a compromised agreement, but for the definition of what is a “registration procedure”.


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