On 4 November 2020, Italian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Sandro Gozi of the Renew Europe Group posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“In March the Commission adopted guidelines to ensure that the rights of passengers in the EU are protected and upheld consistently across the EU when Member States introduce travel restrictions and border controls in response to the COVID-19 crisis. These confirmed that EU citizens have the right to a refund if flights are cancelled. Recently Ryanair announced that it would not be refunding flights that are operated and served, which would include flights cancelled due to new lockdowns in different Member States.
1. How will the Commission ensure that EU rules on passenger rights that guarantee the right to a refund are properly applied and enforced?
2. How will it ensure a coordinated approach to different national travel restrictions across the EU in order to provide greater certainty for European companies and guarantee freedom of movement for EU citizens?”
On 22 January 2021, Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean responded on behalf of the European Commission stating:
“1. The Commission has consistently made clear throughout the COVID-19 crisis that passenger rights remain applicable and that, under Regulation 261/2004 on air passenger rights, air carriers cancelling flights are obliged to reimburse passengers within seven days the full costs of the ticket or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, issue a voucher for the same amount. On 14 May 2020, the Commission sent letters to all Member States urging them to ensure that the EU passenger rights Regulations are correctly applied. The responsibility for enforcement of Regulation 261/2004 lies with the national enforcement bodies designated by each Member State. The Commission is also investigating the situation in all Member States and has requested detailed information on the application of the EU rules on passenger rights from the Member States’ national authorities, which the Commission is currently analysing.
2. On 13 October 2020, the Council adopted, based on a proposal by the Commission, a recommendation on a coordinated approach to COVID-19 free movement restrictions. On this basis, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published a common map indicating the different COVID-19 risk levels in the Member States. The recommendation also underlines the importance of providing clear and timely information to the relevant stakeholders and the public.
On 2 December 2020, the Commission adopted a strategy for sustainably managing the pandemic over the coming winter months, which includes recommended actions on safe travel over the end-of-year holidays. The strategy was accompanied by guidelines from ECDC and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency for COVID-19 testing and quarantine of air travellers.”
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