The EU commission has rejected plans by the german government to restrict consumer rights in the event of travel cancellations due to the corona pandemic.
The commissioner for justice and consumer protection, didier reynders, told the newspapers of the funke mediengruppe that he was aware of the unprecedented crisis for the tourism sector in europe. But decisions of the member states had to be in line with EU law and coordinated within the EU. Under EU law, consumers had the choice of accepting a voucher or preferring a refund.
The federal government wants a mandatory voucher lottery and will continue to push for it. "The federal ministry of justice and consumer protection has taken note of the commission’s initial assessment of the proposed voucher lottery," a ministry spokesman told "handelsblatt.". The federal government will continue to lobby at the european level for a voucher lottery that complies with european law and also takes appropriate account of the interests of consumers in the present situation.
For canceled trips, the federal government wants consumers to get vouchers instead of an immediate refund. The vouchers are to be valid until the end of 2021. If the customer has not redeemed his voucher by then, the organizer must reimburse him for the value. EU law applies to package tours, however.
According to earlier information from the german travel association (DRV), however, twelve EU member states have already adopted national regulations or initiated them. "If many countries protect their respective travel industries through national laws and others do not, we can no longer speak of fair and comparable competitive conditions in europe," said DRV president norbert fiebig.
Actually, a refund for canceled package tours is obligatory after 14 days at the latest, but many tour operators have been waiting for the last time. In the meantime, however, alltours and schauinsland-reisen, for example, have begun to make the repayment. The decision was taken "because we cannot continue to test the patience and understanding of our customers," was how schauinsland-reisen explained its decision.
Other operators, such as tui and DER touristik, give customers the choice between a voucher plus bonus or a rebate. However, they are dependent on the goodwill of their customers.