EU Court Ruling a ‘Blank Cheque’ for AirBnB according to French Tourism Association
France’s Association for Professional Tourism and Accommodation, (AhTOP) is calling on the French Government to take action in regard to what it views as urgent changes required to the European Union’s e-commerce competition rules.
The call comes following the ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that France cannot require AirBnB to hold an estate agent’s professional licence as it did not notify the Commission of that requirement in accordance with the directive on electronic commerce.
The ruling by the EU’s top court comes following a complaint made by AhTOP against the accommodation booking service.
AhTOP made the complaint that AirBnB was acting as an estate agent in France but operating without an estate agent’s licence. It claimed that this was in breach of a local act known as the Hoguet Law.
AIrBnB for its part maintained that it was protected by EU laws on e-commerce.
Had the Court ruled in favour of AhTOP it would have meant a threat to AirBnB’s French business and set a precedent for how the service is regulated in other European countries.
The Court made its ruling based on the determination that AirBnB is an ‘information society service’ as opposed to a real estate broker.
The Court considered the service provided by AirBnB is an ‘intermediation service’ as it puts potential tenants in touch with landlords offering short-term accommodation services.
In a statement from AhTop, it referred to the verdict as ‘…….a blank check for Airbnb Ireland UC which may continue to hide behind the directive on electronic commerce.’
Pointing out that the directive on e-commerce dates from 2002 when ‘digital technology was still in it’s infancy’, the Association said, ‘The Court’s decision demonstrates the urgency of a complete overhaul of this directive. Unable to respond to the challenges posed by digital players. It poses a major risk to players in the real economy, the only job creators, who bear the brunt of platform competition.’
Commenting on the Court ruling, Serge Cachan, President of AhTOP said, ‘We take note of this decision. The directive on electronic commerce has shown its limits, it must be changed as quickly as possible so that it enters the 21st century. It is urgent that the Government make its voice heard in the coming months to radically transform the rules of competition in the European Union.’
(Image by Open Grid Scheduler via creativecommons.org)