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Consumers (06-02-2013)

Air passengers in Europe: equal rights, unequal access to dispute resolution

Brussels, March 2013 - The European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net) issued today a Report on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in the Air Passenger Rights (APR) sector. ADR procedures enable consumers to solve their disputes with businesses without going to court using, saving time and money for both parties.

The ECC-Net report reveals that the ADR landscape in APR varies considerably from one country to another and has not yet reached its full potential. For example, some countries 1 do not have an ADR entity able to handle APR cases, so consumers' sole option, if an amicable solution with the airline proves impossible, is to take the case to court. Some ADR entities charge consumers to handle their files, although most are free of charge.

The air transport sector remains a hotspot in cross-border consumer concerns (22 % of complaints received by ECCs in 2012 related to this sector). In order to boost and harmonise the development of ADR in this sector, the ECC-Net report includes a number of recommendations on the conditions necessary for setting up efficient ADRs in the Member States, Norway and Iceland. It particularly stresses the need to clarify the role of the various actors involved, especially national enforcement bodies and ECCs when it comes to complaint handling.

The Directive on ADR and the Regulation on ODR, which the Council and the European Parliament agreed upon in December 2012, will boost the development of ADR in the single market, including its digital dimension, in the medium term. Early progress is most welcome and should improve consumer confidence.


1 The ECC-Network spans across all EU Member States, as well as Norway and Iceland