The European Council will adopt a general approach on the revision of the Package Travel Directive during the Competitiveness Council held on the 4th of December. ECTAA, the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association, has been advocating for a balanced revision of the Package Travel Directive and deplores that the rushed adoption by the Council will be harmful to the entire travel industry, and especially to travel agents and tour operators.
ECTAA recognises the tremendous amount of work done under the Italian Presidency on the revision of the Package Travel Directive. However, ECTAA deplores the fact that the Council has decided to put the adoption of a general approach on the agenda of tomorrow’s Competitiveness Council meeting, without assessing the impact of numerous decisions taken during the last few weeks.
ECTAA strongly regrets that the Presidency proposes a “à la carte” approach regarding the scope, allowing Member States to decide whether to include or not certain travel services, thus failing at achieving the two main goals of this revision: a functioning single market and a level playing field.
Package travel organisers and traders will be over-burdened by rules which have not been properly assessed and do not apply to all traders offering travel services on the market today, such as traders offering click-through packages. Moreover, the situation will be worsened by imposing a 14 days right of withdrawal on organisers, whereas there is no equivalent right for travel services when they are not combined.
ECTAA would have favoured the adoption of a more balanced text, carefully assessed, ensuring the competitiveness of the entire European travel industry.
Said ECTAA President, Lars Thykier: “The efforts of the Italian Presidency to find solutions in this complex dossier is to be welcomed. It is very worrisome to see that all this work has been rushed for the sake of achieving a first reading, rather than achieving the objectives set out in the Commission proposal. There is a serious risk that the text will not, in any shape or form, contribute to the competitiveness of the travel industry, nor favour a level playing field within the Single Market and that the lack of harmonisation will increase market fragmentation”.
Directive 90/314/EEC on package travel, package holidays and package tours has been adopted in 1990 with the aim of protecting consumers buying a package travel holiday, consisting of, at least, transport and accommodation sold or offered for sale at an inclusive price. The Directive contains rules concerning the liability of package organisers, who must accept responsibility for the performance of the services offered. The Directive also prescribes rules on the information that must be given to consumers at different points in time and requires organisers to provide a security in order to provide repayment of the price and repatriation of consumers in the event of the operator's insolvency.
In 2007 the Commission announced its intention to revise the package travel Directive to adapt the legislative framework to the travel sector which has evolved considerably in recent years, such as the development of the internet, the entry of low cost air carriers and the increasing trend of consumers putting together their own holiday components from different service providers, instead of opting for packages pre-arranged by an organiser.
A number of consultations and stakeholder meetings have been organised by the Commission with the industry and other stakeholders. A legislative proposal for the revision of the package travel Directive has been published in July 2013. The European Parliament already rushed the adoption of a report in first reading, before the European elections, in less than 6 months of work between the designation of a rapporteur and it adoption in March 2014. The European Council has been working on the revision, with the Italian Presidency aiming at achieving a general approach by the end of the year. After only 3 months of work on the revision itself, a general approach is about to be adopted on the 4th of December in the Competitiveness Council. For the travel industry at large, the text is not satisfactory and should deserve more work and assessment before being adopted as a general approach.
ECTAA regroups the national associations of travel agents and tour operators of 31 European countries, of which 27 are within the European Union, and represents some 70.000 enterprises.
Publication date: 3 December 2014
For more information, please contact:
Benoît Chantoin, Legal Adviser
ECTAA - Group of National Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations within the EU
Rue Dautzenberg 36, B-1050 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 644 34 50 or fax: +32 2 644 24 21
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ectaa.org