The European Commission is to launch a review of the Package Holiday Directive this autumn.
Announcing the continent-wide review in Galway, Ireland, yesterday, the European commissioner for consumer affairs, Meglena Kuneva, said the legislation is out of date, having been created and implemented in the 1990s.
The commissioner’s spokeswoman said: “We will have a big launch in October or November of the review of the Package Holiday Directive, which is out of date.
“The directive dates back to the 1990s when (thanks to the number of package holidays sold) it covered something like 90% of passengers on leisure flights.
“Now, more than 50% of people are booking dynamic packages and making independent travel arrangements and the package holiday companies are telling us they are being penalised by the changes.”
The spokeswoman added it was too early to say whether the review would look at widening the current regulations to bring more travel companies in line, or whether the regulations would be loosened for those currently required to comply with them.
Association of Independent Tour Operators council member Noel Josephides said: “It seems at last we have a consumer affairs commissioner in Brussels who is actually paying attention to what AITO has campaigned about on behalf of consumers for many years.
“AITO specialist holiday companies already offer 100% financial protection to consumers and it is only right that consumers should have both clarity and peace of mind when they book a holiday as Kuneva points out.
“It’s very encouraging indeed to see that Kuneva seems to understand how the travel industry has evolved over the decades and the fact that legislation has not kept pace.
“Let’s hope that the traditional red tape often involved in such revision of legislation doesn’t get in the way of some firm and fast action on behalf of European consumers.
“If hotel and other accommodation standards, on fire and general safety in particular, could also be evened out across the European Union, that too would be a huge and very positive step – for mankind and operators alike.”
An ABTA spokeswoman said: “We welcome the commission’s recognition that there are areas that need to change and support the view that the initial area that needs careful consideration is the scope of protection.
“we believe there should be a clear, consistent approach to regulation applying to all sellers of similar product, and will work with the commission to address the potential changes.”