EU Eyes Reclassifying Airbnb, May Bring Stricter Rules

European Union regulators determining how to implement new rules governing dominant internet players may include short-term rental leaders Airbnb and Booking.com on a list of companies the guidelines cover, the Financial Times (FT) reported.

The new rules apply to companies deemed “gatekeepers,” but there is some ambiguity as to what level of revenue merits giving a company the designation, FT reported.

Some observers expect the EU will target only internet giants, such as Google or Amazon, according to FT, while other overseers think as many as 20 companies could make the list.

In the case of Airbnb and Booking.com, significant market share might be enough to land a spot on the list, FT reported. Research firm Transparent concluded that Airbnb has more than 50 percent of the European short-term rental market, Booking.com has 37 percent and Expedia has 22 percent.

FT reported that hotel operators are leading lobbying for new regulation of short-term rental firms.

“Travel is a competitive industry, and we do not believe that Airbnb, or the sectors in which we operate, raise the concerns that the commission has identified with other companies,” Airbnb said in response, according to FT. “Competition in travel has brought significant benefits to European consumers in terms of choice, access and lower prices.”

Despite potential headaches in Europe, Airbnb reportedly is proceeding with plans to conduct an initial public offering (IPO), which could happen as soon as this coming week. In October, Airbnb executives hoped the IPO would raise as much as $3 billion.

On a narrower scale, Airbnb has been dealing with significant regulatory pressure in France, where the government has worked to increase taxes on Big Tech — a move that set it against President Donald Trump.

Even more local still, authorities in Paris reportedly been trying to determine the extent to which the market is contributing to a shortage of long-term housing in the city.