Guest blogpost by Christoph Klenner, Secretary General of the European Technology and Travel Services Association (ETTSA).
At a time when Europe desperately needs to promote a proper functioning marketplace, European legislators have demonstrated how out of touch they can be with the reality of doing business.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, said at the beginning of his tenure that his number one priority is to, “put policies that create growth and jobs at the centre of the policy agenda of the next Commission…we must create a digital single market for consumers and businesses – making use of the great opportunities of digital technologies which know no borders economy as one of the engine that drives growth.”
Yesterday the European Council (4 December) – following the Commission’s earlier proposal – adopted a general approach on the Package Travel Directive (PTD) that flies in the face of Mr Juncker’s number one objective. Moreover, it shows that when the rubber hits the road European legislators prefer to protect antiquated ways of doing business, to the detriment of innovation and consumer choice. ?
While the PTD might appear to be a nice showpiece, a closer reading reveals that the reality is completely different. It defies the objectives of the Digital Single Market, hampers the travel marketplace and creates major obstacles for travel agents to operate efficiently and effectively across the EU. Plus, consumers are given a false impression of protection.
After more than 6 years of dillydallying on the PTD, a sudden and unexplained appetite for legislation has taken over and in a matter of weeks – with hardly any consultation at all – the Council pushed through a universally bad text.
One example of its poor construction is a provision that tries to get ‘click through’ targeted ads for travel products into the scope of the Directive, which makes compliance impossible for many travel agents and other suppliers of travel services who simply engage in cross-marketing.
Even more concerning is the fact that nothing in this provision gives consumers any additional protection. It is an empty shell that will reduce choice for travel consumers because the market will simply stop offering some of the products that European travellers love to buy today.
There is still a small window of opportunity for legislators to do what needs to be done: engage with all stakeholders before finally adopting a rushed and ill conceived piece of legislation that will kill innovative travel products that have so far brought more choice and better value to consumers across Europe.Blogactiv Team