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Brussels, 14 December 2005

European Commission determined to enforce air passengers’ rights

The Commission has decided to refer Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and Sweden to the European Court of Justice and to deliver reasoned opinion to Slovakia for failure to comply with European legislation on air passenger rights. These countries have not fulfilled all their obligations pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, which entered into force on 17 February 2005 and provides additional protection for air passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellation or long delays. To date they have still not established an effective system of penalties vis-à-vis airlines which infringe the provisions of the Regulation.

“We are determined to ensure that the rights of European passengers are dealt with effectively in all the Member States,” stated Jacques Barrot, the Commission Vice-President responsible for Transport.

Referral procedures have been initiated against Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and Sweden, which have still not laid down rules on the penalties applicable to infringements of the Regulation.[1] The Regulation stipulates that Member States must introduce effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and ensure that they are applied. The competent national authorities have been reminded of their obligations on several occasions and have failed to respond in a satisfactory manner.

Reasoned opinion has also been delivered to Slovakia, which has not provided the Commission with the requisite information on the setting of sanctions.

[1] Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91.

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