Revision of the Package Travel Directive
On 25 November 2015 the the new Package Travel Directive (2015/2302/EU) was adopted, bringing it up to date with the developments in the travel market.
The new Directive will enter into force on 31 December, 20 days after its publication. The Member States have to transpose it by 1 January 2018 and it will be applicable from 1 July 2018. The Commission will support the Member States in this process and organise several workshops in Brussels to discuss questions arising in connection with the transposition.
Scope of the Directive
The rules will extend protection of the 1990 EU Package Travel Directive to cover not only traditional package holidays, but also give clear protection to 120 million consumers who book other forms of combined travel, e.g. a self-chosen combination on a website of a flight plus hotel or car rental. There will always be protection where travel services are advertised as a package or where they are offered at a total or inclusive price.
The new Directive broadens the concept of ‘package’ and now will apply to 3 different sorts of travel combinations:
pre-arranged packages - ready-made holidays from a tour operator made up of at least 2 elements: transport, accommodation or other services, e.g. car rental;
customised packages - selection of components by the traveller and bought from a single business online or offline;
linked travel arrangements - if the consumer, after having booked one travel service on one website, is invited to book another service through a targeted link or similar, the new rules offer some protection– provided that the second booking is made within 24 hours.
Benefits for Consumers
The new Directive is expected to reduce detriment to consumers by about €430 million a year, due to the following reinforced rights:
- New information requirements for travellers: they must include understandable information on the package and the protection they benefit from under package holiday rules.
- More predictable prices: establishment of a 8% cap for possible price increases by the trader, beyond which the traveller has the right to cancel their holiday free of charge.
- Stronger cancellation rights: free cancellation before departure in case of natural disasters, war, or other serious situations at the destination. Package travellers will also be able to cancel their holiday for any reason by paying a reasonable cancellation fee (in addition to the right to transfer the package to another traveller).
- Clear identification of the liable party: the organiser of the package in all EU Member States has to deal with the problem if something goes wrong. In addition Member States may decide that also the retailer (travel agent) is fully liable.
- Clear liability for booking errors: traders will be made explicitly liable for booking errors in relation to packages and linked travel arrangements.
- Clarification on essential consumer rights: the organiser is required to assist travellers in difficulty, for example where health assistance is needed.
- Guarantees of money-back and repatriation: if the package organiser goes bankrupt; these guarantees will under certain conditions be extended to linked travel arrangements.
Benefits for Businesses
The new Directive will reduce the administrative burden on businesses and bring down compliance costs for traders from €11 to €8 per package sold. The main advantages for market operators consist in:
- A level playing field: the same rules will apply for businesses across the EU selling competing travel products. The new harmonized approach will result in easier cross-border transactions.
- Mutual recognition of insolvency protection: insolvency schemes will be recognised across the EU. To that effect, a structured cooperation mechanism between the Member States will be put in place.
- Business trips arranged by business travel management companies will no longer be included under the rules: this avoids overregulation, while ensuring that small and micro-businesses making travel arrangements will still be protected.
- Modernised information requirements no longer based exclusively on travel brochures: the fact that traders will not have to reprint brochures is expected to save traders €390 million per year.
- Less administrative burden, easier cross-border transactions and increased legal certainty will at the same time benefit businesses.
The Review Process
The directive is a result of thorough analysis of the main regulatory problems in the area of package travel and multiple stakeholder consultations:
In 2007 the Commission published a working document [70 KB] and consulted stakeholders on issues related to the Package Travel Directive (Directive 90/314/EEC). The consultation showed strong support for a revision of the Directive (summary of responses).
In January 2009 the Commission launched a "Study on Consumer Detriment in the area of Dynamic Packages ", focusing on the measurement of consumer detriment in the area of so-called "dynamic packages".
Against this background, the Commission launched a public consultation on the revision of the Directive in November 2009. While the consultation in 2007 sought to identify the problems with the existing Directive, this consultation focused on possible ways of solving the identified problems.
It also aimed to quantify the impact of various possible legislative options. The outcome of the consultation is presented in this summary of responses.
On 22 April 2010 the Commission held a full-day stakeholders' workshop on the revision of the Package Travel Directive.
The aim of the workshop was to discuss the policy options identified during the revision process.
On 5 June 2012 the Commission held a further conference with stakeholders and Member States on the revision of the Package Travel Directive (agenda ).
The purpose of the conference was to discuss and clarify some key issues for the presentation of the new proposal.
In December 2014 Ministers in the Council reached agreement on a General Approach.
Between February and May 2015 negotiations took place between the Council and the European Parliament, facilitated by the Commission.
On 28 May 2015 the EU Council backed the new Package Travel Directive.
On 27 October 2015 the European Parliament voted in favour of the agreement.
On 25 November 2015 the new Directive was signed.
On 11 December 2015 the new Directive was published in the Official Journal.