Brussels, 28 March 2014
Rail Passenger Rights: Commission refers Italy to Court for failing to comply with EU rules
The European Commission is referring Italy to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to fully comply with EU rules on rail passenger rights. Regulation (EC) No. 1371/2007 on rail passengers' rights establishes several legally binding obligations for Member States and had to be fully applied by 3 December 2009.
Italy has not yet established an official and authorised body for the application of the Regulation in its territory, nor has it set up rules to sanction violations of rail passenger rights legislation. Without these two necessary actions, passengers travelling by train in Italy or from Italy to other EU countries will not be able to claim the rights they are entitled to if something goes wrong with their journey.
Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for Transport, said: "The protection of passengers when travelling in Europe is one of the cornerstones of European transport policy. All EU Member States must ensure effective structures are in place for passengers to claim their rights and to punish violations. This also guarantees a level playing field for the rail transport industry across the EU".
Italy, unlike many other EU Member States, did not grant any exemptions to the application of the Regulation: passenger rights apply in full for all services, international as well as national. It is therefore all the more important for passengers who experience problems with their journeys to be able to refer their complaints to a competent authority, equipped with the necessary competences to ensure the application and enforcement of the Regulation. Furthermore, in view of the lack of effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for violations of the Regulation, there is no incentive for the railway industry to comply with its obligations. Currently, Italy has set up just a temporary body with neither the competence nor the authority to apply the EU Rules on passenger rights in full.
The Commission has sent a letter of formal notice concerning the compliance with the Regulation to Italy in June 2013. A reasoned opinion followed in November 2013. Despite these proceedings, full compliance is still pending in Italy.
Today's action is in line with the Commission's objective to ensure Member States' full compliance with passenger rights rules.
Regulation 1371/2007 on rail passenger rights and obligations entered into force on 3 December 2009. It provides protection to passengers travelling by rail in the EU through the application of basic rights:
These rights apply in principle to all rail services. However, Member States can choose to adopt transitional periods or exempt certain types of services such as urban, suburban and regional services, domestic services limited in time (max. 15 years) or services where a significant part is operated outside the EU (max. 10 years). Only a limited list of basic rights applies to all services in any case. International EU rail services cannot be exempted. Italy has not asked for any exemptions.
For more information see: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passengers/index_en.htm
As part of the ongoing information campaign on passengers' rights for all modes of transport a website has been launched on http://ec.europa.eu/passenger-rights
A smart phone application for passenger right covers all transport modes and works on four mobile platforms: Apple iPhone and iPad, Google Android, and Microsoft Windows Phone 7. The app is available in 22 EU languages.
On the March infringement package decisions, see MEMO/14/241
On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12
More information on infringement procedures
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