Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Union requests Lambrecht to give in

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Travel agency

Politicians are looking for solutions to save the travel industry.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin The debate about compulsory vouchers to save the travel industry in the corona crisis is moving. After the Federal Government’s Tourism Commissioner, Thomas Bareiß, moved away from the originally intended voucher solution for European law reasons, a rescue fund for the ailing travel industry and consumers is becoming increasingly likely.

Bareiß pleads for this variant as well as the Union parliamentary group. Federal consumer advocate Christine Lambrecht (SPD) has so far blocked a state-funded rescue fund, although the EU Commission has already clearly rejected mandatory travel vouchers because it does not want to allow consumer rights to be restricted.

A spokesman for Lambrechts recently said: “The Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection has taken note of the Commission’s first assessment of the proposed voucher solution.” adequately consider.

The legal spokesman for the Union parliamentary group, Jan-Marco Luczak (CDU), thinks little of this after the tourism official no longer wants vouchers and instead favors a fund solution. “The consumer protection minister must immediately contact the finance minister to clarify the details,” Luczak told the Handelsblatt.

However, it is important to the Union that the state steps in only temporarily. “In the end, liability should not lie with the taxpayer,” emphasized the CDU politician. “The travel industry must gradually replenish the money paid out of the fund and the funds flow back to the federal budget.”

Luczak warned: “We now need clarity quickly.” Many travel agencies are now on the brink of economic disaster. “If a voucher solution in line with European law is not foreseeable, we need a travel insurance fund.”

Berlin and Brussels disagree about travel vouchers

Bareiß is also pushing the pace. “The pressure in the travel industry is growing day by day. The situation is more than tense. Tour operators and travel agencies now need reliability, ”said the dpa agency’s CDU politician.

Bareiß sharply criticized the debate with the EU Commission about a voucher solution: “This more than annoying hangover is slowly endangering companies and employees,” he said. In his opinion, a secured voucher solution would be a viable option in this exceptional situation. “However, if there is no majority in Europe and the federal government, a comprehensive rescue fund is quickly needed to help consumers and employees through this difficult dry spell.”

The EU countries are divided in the debate about vouchers for canceled air travel due to the corona crisis. A few countries – including Germany – had requested that airlines be allowed to temporarily issue vouchers for canceled flights, the Croatian EU Presidency announced on Wednesday after a video clip by the EU transport ministers. Other countries would have rejected changes to existing EU law so as not to disappoint passengers’ expectations.

According to EU law, plane tickets and package tours must actually be reimbursed. However, Germany wants to oblige consumers to accept a voucher instead of a reimbursement for travel cancellations in the corona crisis – in order to ensure the liquidity of companies. EU Vice-President Vera Jourova said it was important to strike a balance between strong consumer rights and the liquidity of travel providers. Therefore, an implementable solution is sought.

More: Worldwide travel warning by mid-June: what rights do consumers have?

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