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How Europe manages the sharing economy

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EUobserver's 2017 edition of its Business in Europe magazine takes a closer look at the the sharing economy.

Airbnb's change of heart

Airbnb's change of heart toward Strasbourg The accommodation platform has begun to cooperate with the French city because it saw negative sideeffects were damaging its reputation, says Alain Fontanel, Strasboug's vice-mayor. Alain Fontanel has done it himself - used the Airbnb his native country of France, or abroad, with his three children, an Airbnb apartment can be more attractive than staying at a hotel, he told EUobserver in an interview. The vice-mayor of Strasbourg, in charge of tourism, has also rented out his own house to strangers, making use of Airbnb. He did not see any problem in citizens occasionally renting out their apartments through apps such

as these. The real trouble is caused by owners of multiple buildings, that use Airbnb to rent out rooms throughout the year, but without any of the permits “There is a big difference between one owner with one apartment renting one or two months per year, each of them all year long,” Fontanel said, adding that “it's not the same problem.” The “multi-owner”, as Fontanel called them, is exercising unfair competition towards Strasbourg's hotels, while driving up housing and rental prices. “Especially in Strasbourg, when you take the central part of the city, you have more and more Airbnb houses, and so fewer and fewer houses for people living here,” the socialist politician said. He then went on to argue that “because you have fewer families”, the number of school children are dropping in the centre. “Airbnb helps to attract different types of tourism into our city, so [that is] good news,” he said, noting however that “it also has sideeffects that can be negative.” STRASBOURG WEEK AND THE SHARING ECONOMY The European Parliament meets in Strasbourg for plenary sessions twelve times a year. “When it's the week of the parliament, all the hotels are full,” said Strasbourg's vice-mayor Alain Fontanel. Parliament staff have complained to Fontanel that hotels This has led to some EU staffers to begin using Airbnb. One Strasbourg-based Airbnb host, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he “regularly” hosts trainees from the parliament, who “can't afford the price of a classical hotel”. EU parliament spokeswoman Marjory van den Broeke told EUobserver that the parliament has no break-down of how many of its staff stay in hotels or at Airbnb accommodation. She did have information on how the staff are travelling between Brussels and Strasbourg. According to data provided by Airbnb, there is a clear correlation between the timing of the plenary session in Strasbourg and visitors from Brussels. "It is a good example of how Airbnb is helping destinations accommodate events by providing additional accommodation without the need for additional building projects, while supporting sustainable Bernard D'heygere told EUobserver. The parliament is promoting car sharing and, in 2016, around 12 percent did just that. However, the most popular mode of transport were still driving in one's own car (34 percent), followed by making use of the chartered train (27 percent), and the regular train (15 percent). SHARING ECONOMY & EUROPE MAY 2017— 21

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