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Helping the European Commission to evaluate Dutch implementation of the new Package Travel Directive

The recent news of Thomas Cook going into administration caused many travellers a lot of distress. Most often raised questions were twofold. First, whether travellers who have purchased their holidays with Thomas Cook but have not yet departed on them could count on their holidays still taking place. Second, whether travellers who were at the moment of the announcement enjoying such holidays could continue them and then safely return home.

The answers to these questions depend on how the United Kingdom has implemented the recent Directive (EU) 2015/2302 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on package travel and linked travel arrangements. The European Commission is currently engaged in a process of the evaluation of the completeness and compliance of the implementation measures adopted in all the Member States. Furthermore, the assessment compares the effectiveness of various national schemes adopted to protect travellers against package travel organisers, such as Thomas Cook.

Prof. Joasia Luzak contributed to this assessment by writing a report on how the Netherlands implemented this new Package Travel Directive. A piecemeal, thorough comparison of the Directive’s provisions with the provisions of the Dutch Civil Code showed a few inaccuracies and gaps in the implementation. Moreover, research of the Dutch private insolvency protection schemes, which was partially based also on interviews with their stakeholders, showed inadequacies of consumer protection similar to what the news are reporting in the UK at the moment. The main problem results from travellers often having to first pay for either their repatriation or continuation of their holidays before they can claim reimbursement of the paid amounts. Further, travellers often need to wait at least a few months before they are reimbursed.

It will still take time before the Commission concludes its study and publishes the report. The recent insolvency case studies, whilst unfortunate, may provide an impulse to a further re-organisation of consumer protection in this area.