Refund for cancelled travel during pandemic: Commission decides to refer Slovakia to Court of Justice
Although initially Slovakia had announced an amendment to its legislation, the national provisions on reimbursement for package holidays cancelled because of COVID-19, adopted in May 2020, remain in force.
Under these national rules, travellers whose package holiday is cancelled because of COVID-19 have to either accept an amended package travel contract or a substitute package offered by the organiser of the package.
Alternatively, the travellers are entitled to a refund only after 31 August 2021. These rules breach Union law as under the Package Travel Directive, travelers are entitled to a refund within 14 days if their package travel contract is terminated because of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances.
In July 2020, the Commission launched an infringement procedure against Slovakia (and 9 other Member States) for introducing rules on package travel, which were not in conformity with the Package Travel Directive. In October 2020, the Commission proceeded to the next stage of the infringement procedure and sent Slovakia a reasoned opinion. In December 2020 Slovakia replied to the reasoned opinion and shared a draft legislative amendment. It was planned that the amendment would be adopted in March 2021 and enter into force on 1 May 2021.
At the end of March 2021, the Slovak authorities informed the European Commission that the draft amendment had not been adopted and that a new legislative process would be initiated. As Slovakia has not yet amended its legislation, the Commission decided today to refer Slovakia to the Court of Justice to ensure that this important consumer right on package travel becomes a reality again under Slovak legislation. ■