Airbnb breaches EU consumer rules, must fall into line

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said Airbnb should state whether accommodation is offered by a private individual or a professional, provide details of the price in a clear way and modify its terms of service. (AFP)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Airbnb breaches EU consumer rules, must fall into line

BRUSSELS: The EU told Airbnb on Monday to bring its terms and conditions into line with the bloc’s consumer rules or face action by national consumer agencies, after a review of the short-term rental platform found some violations.
Some of Airbnb’s terms and the way it presents its prices breach the bloc’s unfair commercial practices directive, the unfair contract terms directive and the regulation on jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters, the EU executive said.
San Francisco-based Airbnb and similar rental platforms, which help homeowners rent out their homes or rooms for short periods, have grown in popularity in recent years because of their competitive prices in comparison with hotels.
“But popularity cannot be an excuse for not complying with EU consumer rules. Consumers must easily understand ... how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules for example on cancelation of the accommodation by the owner,” EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said in a statement.
The company has until the end of August to present its proposals for responding to the criticism which will then be reviewed by the Commission and national consumer authorities. It could face fines if it does not comply with EU rules.
The EU executive said Airbnb should state whether accommodation is offered by a private individual or a professional, provide details of the price in a clear way and modify its terms of service to make them fairer to consumers.
Airbnb did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The issue came to light after national consumer agencies in June examined Airbnb’s business practices published in different languages.
Rental platforms have come under fire for driving up property prices and contributing to a housing shortage in Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and other big cities.


China’s Xi promotes building initiative amid debt worries

Updated 2 min 59 sec ago
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China’s Xi promotes building initiative amid debt worries

  • Xi says Beijing wants “open, green and clean cooperation” with “zero tolerance for corruption”
  • High costs have prompted complaints some are falling into a “debt trap”
BEIJING: President Xi Jinping has promised to set high standards for China’s Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative, seeking to dispel complaints the many billion dollars in projects leave developing countries with too much debt.
Xi avoided mentioning debt complaints in a speech opening a forum attended by leaders from some three dozen countries to celebrate his signature foreign initiative. But he said Beijing wants “open, green and clean cooperation” with “zero tolerance for corruption.”
Developing countries welcome the initiative to expand trade by building roads, ports and other facilities across Asia and Africa to Europe. But high costs have prompted complaints some are falling into a “debt trap.”
The United States, Russia, Japan and India also worry Beijing is trying to build a trade and political network centered on China and expand its strategic influence at their expense.
Xi’s government is trying to revive the initiative’s momentum after the number of new projects plunged last year. That came after Chinese officials said state-owned banks would step up scrutiny of borrowers and some governments complained projects do too little for their economies and might give Beijing too much political sway.
Countries including Malaysia and Thailand have canceled or scaled back projects while Ethiopia and others have renegotiated debt repayment.
Xi noted China’s finance ministry on Thursday issued guidelines for assessing debt risks for borrowers. The ministry said those “debt sustainability guidelines” are based on the standards of the International Monetary Fund and other international institutions.
The president tried to allay complaints about lack of economic benefits and political influence, saying Belt and Road is “not an exclusive club” and promotes “common development and prosperity.”
“We need to pursue open, green and clean cooperation,” Xi said. “Everything should be done in a transparent way and we should have zero tolerance for corruption.”
His audience at a Beijing conference center included Prime Ministers Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Lee Hsien-Loong of Singapore and Adiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and leaders or envoys from Greece, Serbia and Malaysia.
Xi said Beijing also wants to expand the scope of its initiative by encouraging cooperation among Belt and Road countries on health, water resources, agriculture and science and technology. He promised to fund scholarships for students from Belt and Road countries.