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Vouchers: Commission threatens EU member states with legal steps

The European Commission is taking the first step in legal procedures against countries that are breaching EU law by not insisting that companies provide cash refunds to customers over cancelled travel or holidays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, thus handing out only vouchers.

Commission executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager told a news conference on Wednesday that travel companies, including airlines, might create incentives for people to accept vouchers, but EU citizens fundamentally had a right to a refund if they wanted.

“As of today, where we have taken the Commission’s decision on this, letters will be sent to the member states who are in breach of this very fundamental principle. So these letters, they are going off as we speak,” she said of the first formal step in the so-called infringement legal procedures.

In its recommendations and guidelines on restarting Tourism in the European Union, the European Commission urged, among others, that vouchers for cancelled trips need to be made for “attractive” for consumers.

  • Making vouchers a more attractive option for consumers:

Under EU rules, travellers have the right to choose between vouchers or cash reimbursement for cancelled transport tickets (plane, train, bus/coach, and ferries) or package travel,

While reaffirming this right, the Commission’s recommendation aims to ensure that vouchers become a viable and more attractive alternative to reimbursement for cancelled trips in the context of the current pandemic, which has also put heavy financial strains on travel operators.

The voluntary vouchers should be protected against insolvency of the issuer, with a minimum validity period of 12 months, and be refundable after at most one year, if not redeemed.

They should also provide passengers sufficient flexibility, should allow the passengers to travel on the same route under the same service conditions or the travellers to book a package travel contract with the same type of services or of equivalent quality.

They should also be transferable to another traveller. 

More information on tourism in Greece amid the pandemic see here.

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One comment

  1. What about coming to Greece by car and car Ferry ?