The European Commision Tiger Finally Bites

On July 2, 2020, the European Commission began ‘Infringement Proceedings‘ against Greece for violation of EU law EC261/2004 in respect of laws passed by the Greek government which permitted its travel companies to withhold cash refunds mandated by the HIGHER European law designed to protect passengers’ rights.

While this is a significant step toward our goal of enuring that Greek law and Aegean Airlines adhere to the HIGHER European consumer protection law, we must not be complacent. Greece will likely appeal, prevaricate and drag out the process with the aim of ensuring that Aegean, and its other travel businesses, can hold onto our money for as long as possible, during which time, bankruptcy or ‘restructuring’  could deprive us of our money entirely. SO – we must keep up the pressure on the European Commission to ensure that it forces the pace of the legal action. PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION if you haven’t already done so.

Well done everybody who’s worked hard to lobby the European Commission, and to those who’ve signed our petition and sent emails, such as our template email, to the Commissioners.

The EC press release, ‘July infringements package: key decisions‘, can be read on the Commission website. It contains other items in addition to the Greece proceedings. For your convenience, we’ve reproduced the relevant text of the press release below.

Commission opens infringement proceedings against GREECE and ITALY for failure to comply with EU rules protecting rights of passengers

Today the European Commission launched infringement proceedings by sending letters of formal notice to Greece and Italy for being in violation of EU rules protecting rights of passengers. Both Greece and Italy have taken measures that do not comply with EU rules on air passenger rights (Regulation (EC) No 261/2004) and on waterborne travel (Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010). Furthermore, Italy has taken measures that do not comply with EU rules on bus and coach travel (Regulation (EU) No 181/2011) and rail passenger rights (Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007). Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many companies in the transport sector have been faced with unsustainable cash flows and revenue situations. Throughout this crisis, the Commission has consistently made clear that passenger rights remain valid in the current unprecedented context and national measures to support the industry must not lower them. While the European Commission is also assessing the situation in other Member States by requesting further information on the application of the rules, Greece and Italy have adopted legislation allowing carriers to offer vouchers as the only form of reimbursement. Under the EU passenger rights Regulations, however, passengers have the right to choose between reimbursement in money and other forms of refund, such as a voucher. If they are offered vouchers, the passengers have to agree to this solution. Greece and Italy now have two months to reply to the arguments raised by the Commission, otherwise the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.