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European Commission Refers Ireland to the Court of Justice for Failing To Provide EU Rules on Package Travel

The European Commission decided today to refer Ireland to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to transpose EU package travel rules (Directive (EU) 2015/2302) into national law.

The Commission will call on the Court to impose the payment of the lump sum based on a daily amount of € 3,808.80 with the minimum lump sum of € 1,181,000 and a daily penalty of € 15.996,96. The amount of the penalties are calculated taking into account the seriousness and the duration of the infringement, as well as the Member State’s capacity to pay and its institutional weight.

The modernised package travel rules ensure clearer information for travellers, including an obligation to indicate its price and any additional charges when booking package holidays. The EU rules also ensure stronger cancellation rights, clearer rules on liability, refunds and repatriation in case organisers go bankrupt. There are also clearer and easier rules for businesses when doing cross-border activities.

Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, said: “The EU Package travel directive brings great benefits for consumers and businesses alike. The rules are adapted to the digital age and the new ways of booking holidays. Travellers also benefit from new rights and be well protected in case the operator goes bankrupt. The new rules make it easier for travel businesses to offer their services cross-border. We urge Ireland to transpose the directive as promptly as possible to avoid unnecessary fines.”

In November 2015, Member States agreed to transpose EU rules into national law by 1 January 2018 and should enter into application on 1 July 2018. In March 2018, the Commission opened the infringement proceedings by sending a letter of formal notice to Ireland, followed by a reasoned opinion in November 2018. To date, Ireland has still not notified the full transposition of the Directive into its national law. Therefore, the Commission has decided to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.

The EU package travel legislation (the Package Travel Directive, Directive (EU) 2015/2302) replaces previous rules from 1990 (Council Directive 90/314/EEC) and adapts the scope of travellers’ protection to market and technological developments. The current Directive covers not only traditional package holidays, but also protect consumers who book other forms of combined travel, including self-customised packages, where the traveller chooses different elements from a single point of sale online or offline. The Directive also harmonises Member States’ national legislations on a number of travellers’ rights on the combination of different travel services (transport, accommodation, car rental and other travel services).

In practice, under Article 260(3) of Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) if a Member State fails to comply with an obligation under EU law, in this case by not transposing a Directive adopted by the EU legislator into national law within the required deadline, the Commission may call on the Court of Justice of the EU to impose financial sanctions. When specifying a financial sanction, the Commission takes into account:

– the seriousness of the infringement;

– the duration of the infringement;

– special “n” factor (which varies between Member States and takes into account their Gross domestic product, GDP, in millions of euros and number of seats of the Member State concerned in the European Parliament);

The financial sanctions proposed by the Commission consist of a lump sum payment (to penalise the existence of the infringement itself), and a daily penalty payment (to penalise the continuation of the infringement).

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