Brussels launched Thursday, July 2, infringement proceedings against ten EU countries, including France, to defend the right of travelers to be reimbursed in the event of cancellation of their trips due to the coronavirus.
In addition to France, the European Commission has sent a letter of formal notice to the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia.
Consumer rights remain valid despite the context
Many travel services had to be canceled due to confinement. However, European law provides that in the event of cancellation, the traveler has the right to choose between a refund or a voucher.
Throughout the crisis, the Commission has stressed that consumer rights remain valid despite the unprecedented current environment.
This subject is particularly sensitive because containment measures have weakened many tourism businesses, which, for lack of income, may have to dismiss their staff, or even close their doors.
The European Consumers’ Bureau (Beuc) welcomed the Commission’s decision. ” It’s good news “, said Monique Goyens, director of Beuc, quoted in a press release. And to encourage the national governments concerned “To ensure that those who need it are reimbursed”.
Refunds not systematically offered
“In these ten Member States, specific national rules relating to package travel remain applicable and allow travel organizers to issue vouchers, instead of reimbursement, for canceled trips, or to postpone reimbursement well beyond the 14-day time limit set out in the Package Travel Directive “, notes the European Commission.
It requires their response within two months and their “Request to take measures to remedy the shortcomings it has identified”.
Otherwise, the European executive will go to the second stage of the infringement procedure, known in European parlance, the reasoned opinion, where the Commission requests countries to comply with Union law. The deadline is usually two months again.
If the EU country still does not comply with its obligations, the Commission can decide to refer the matter to the EU Court of Justice. Most cases are settled before being referred to the Court.