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European Commission

Press release

Strasbourg, 12 March 2014

Stress-free holidays for 120 million consumers – European Parliament backs new rules on package travel

The European Parliament backed today (610 votes for, 58 against and 13 abstentions) the European Commission's proposal modernising EU rules on package holidays (IP/13/663). Existing EU rules on package travel holidays date back to 1990. Under the new rules, the Package Travel Directive will enter the digital age and better protect 120 million consumers who buy customised travel arrangements – especially online – and are not covered under today's EU rules. The reform will bolster protection for consumers by increasing transparency about the kind of travel product they are buying and by strengthening their rights in case something goes wrong. Businesses will also benefit as the new Directive will scrap outdated information requirements such as the need to reprint brochures and will make sure that national insolvency protection schemes are recognised across borders.

The main changes supported by the European Parliament's report are:

  • Member States will be able to make package travel retailers liable if something goes wrong during the package holiday, in addition to the organiser of the package.

  • Retailers, including transport providers, who invite travellers to purchase additional travel services (such as a hotel room or car rental) on a linked website will have to provide insolvency protection only if they transfer the traveller's name or contact details to another service provider, whereas, under the Commission proposal, it is sufficient that the traveller receives a targeted invitation to book an additional travel service on a linked website.

  • Organisers of package holidays may charge a higher price only if their costs increase by more than 3% and travellers will have the right to terminate the contract. In cases where the price increase exceeds 8%, where possible, they have to be offered an alternative holiday.

Next steps: Today's backing in Plenary follows the support of the internal market and consumer protection committee (IMCO) on 11 February (MEMO/14/101). For the proposal to become law, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers will have to agree on the final text of the Directive in the "ordinary legislative procedure" (co-decision).

Background

The 1990 Package Travel Directive (90/314/EEC) has successfully been protecting consumers booking pre-arranged package holidays for over 20 years. It protects European consumers going on holiday and covers pre-arranged package holidays combining at least two of the following services: (1) transport, (2) accommodation (3) other tourist services, such as sightseeing tours, when the services cover more than 24 hours or include an overnight stay.

The existing Directive provides protection covering: information requirements and liability of tour operators (and/or travel agencies) for the performance of travel services, which means that tour operators (and/or travel agencies) have to ensure that all services included in the package (e.g. flight and hotel accommodation) are provided and are up to the required standard, as well as protection (reimbursement of pre-payments or repatriation) in the case of a tour operator (and/or travel agency) going bust.

The rules need to be updated as more and more travellers put together their holidays on the internet with the help of different operators and are not always sure of protection if something goes wrong. Around 23% of consumers book pre-arranged traditional package holidays - which are already covered by the 1990 EU Package Travel Directive. But another 23% buy customised holidays which are put together by one or more commercially linked traders to suit the needs and preferences of the customer. For example, consumers might book transport and a hotel from the same operator, or rent a car via the website where they booked their flight. Today's rules either simply do not cover such arrangements, or do so only in an ambiguous manner, leaving consumers unsure of their rights and traders unclear of their obligations. As a result, in a recent survey, 67% of EU citizens mistakenly thought that they were protected when buying such travel arrangements when they were not.

The aim of the reform is therefore to make sure that all those buying customised holidays are suitably protected, either when booking packages or new forms of linked travel arrangements.

For more information

European Commission – package travel directive:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/consumer-marketing/travel/package/index_en.htm

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

http://ec.europa.eu/reding

Justice Directorate General Newsroom:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/index_en.htm

Follow the Vice-President on Twitter

@VivianeRedingEU

Follow EU Justice on Twitter

@EU_Justice


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