The European Commission said on Thursday that it has decided to start infringement proceedings against 10 countries, including Cyprus, regarding travelers’ rights.
It has sent a letter of formal notice to Czechia, Cyprus, Greece, France, Italy, Croatia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, and Slovakia on the grounds that their national rules infringe EU law on consumers’ and travelers’ rights.
More specifically, the EC said the ten Member States are violating Article 12(4) Directive (EU) 2015/2302, the Package Travel Directive.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, travel arrangements have had to be canceled. Throughout this crisis, the Commission has consistently made clear that consumer rights remain valid in the current unprecedented context and national measures to support the industry must not lower them.
On May 13, 2020, the Commission adopted a specific Recommendation on vouchers in the current context to support Member States in setting up attractive, reliable, and flexible voucher schemes.
Nevertheless, in these ten states, specific national rules on package travel are still applicable allowing organizers of package travel to issue vouchers, instead of reimbursement in money, for canceled trips, or to postpone reimbursement far beyond the 14-day period, as set in the Package Travel Directive.
Under EU law, passengers have, however, the right to choose between reimbursement in money and other forms of refund, such as a voucher.
The states have two months to reply to the Commission and take the necessary measures to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send reasoned opinions.