European Council adopts new Package Travel Directive, despite opposition by the Netherlands

September 22, 2015
Marieke Timmerman, travel law attorney, Höcker Advocaten, Netherlands

Hocker-logoOn 18 September 2015, the European Council adopted the proposed new European Package Travel Directive. The directive has thus come one step closer. The European Parliament still must give its formal approval, which is expected to occur in October. Once the directive has formally been adopted, the Member States will then have 30 months to incorporate the directive’s provisions into their national laws. 

In previous news items on 5 January 2015 and 8 June 2015, I discussed the key changes which the directive will bring about. Together with several other countries (specifically, Belgium, Estonia, Ireland, Malta and Slovakia), the Netherlands voted against the proposal, with the countries issuing a joint statement explaining their opposition. Austria likewise voted against the proposed new directive, providing its own statement of explanation.

The Netherlands and the other countries had several main reasons for opposing the directive. First, they had major doubts about the supposed harmonising effect of the directive. While harmonisation is one of the directive’s objectives, the directive in fact includes numerous possibilities for getting around the provisions, thereby undermining legal certainty.

The countries voting ‘no’ also pointed out that, although there are differences between package tours, ‘linked travel arrangements’ and single travel services, both providers and consumers, in their view, sometimes have trouble making fine distinctions between these various options. Providers and consumers therefore do not always know whether they are selling or buying a package tour or linked travel arrangement. If this is unclear, the exact same risk may become insured by several service providers (for example, with regard to insolvency protection), which will ultimately only result in higher prices for consumers.

A final point of concern raised by the countries opposing the new directive was that the burdens entailed by the directive will primarily be borne by small- and medium-sized travel companies. Under certain circumstances, these companies will also be required to ensure protection against insolvency, in some cases, for service providers which are larger than themselves. Consequently, the countries argued for a ‘level playing field’ with countries outside the EU, because providers from those countries do not always have to offer insolvency protection at present, causing the market to be out of balance.

Notwithstanding all these counterarguments, the directive is expected to be approved by the European Parliament as well in October. It remains to be seen then how the Netherlands will implement the directive. For the latest developments on the directive, please follow the news items on our website.

Marieke Timmerman - H+Âcker Advocaten 2015 All image rights reserved by Julien Dony-9737About the author
Marieke Timmerman is a senior asociate and works in the company law and insolvency law division. Marieke has a particular interest in the travel industry and is specialised in travel law. Her clients consult her on a broad range of issues, ranging from disputes with suppliers to advice on general terms and conditions, from buying and selling businesses to advice for companies in difficult financial times. Marieke is an active member of the International Forum of Travel and Tourism Advocates (IFTTA), the Dutch Travel Lawyers Association and the Dutch Insolvency Lawyers Association.