Campaigners and the Travel Industry have suffered a recent disappointment, delivered by Commissioner Jourova from DG Justice at the EU Commission. The Commission decided that an important Consultation on Safety in Holiday Accommodation was being concluded, apparently on the basis of finding no Consumer Detriment or that there was any failure of law or enforcement committed by Member States.
This Organisation has attempted to extract the rationale for the Commission's decision, but to date, the Commission appears reluctant to answer key questions about how this decision was made. DG Justice have informed HolidayTravelWatch that they have now relinquished its responsibility for all issues relating to Safety in Holiday Accommodation, to its sister DG, DG Growth.
Yesterday, there was an important Roundtable meeting at the European Parliament with key Stakeholders, to assess the impact of Commissioner Jourova's decision and what steps need to be taken to bring about a better safety regime in the holiday product throughout Europe.
HolidayTravelWatch offered the following as potential solutions:
- In examining the nature and structure of any proposed Regulation or Directive, it is acknowledged that the issue of safety in holiday accommodation is such a broad issue that it may not be easy to initially include all aspects of safety;
- If any such law and its construction is to be limited, then we would propose that its essentials should include:
- Fire Safety;
- Carbon Monoxide Safety
- Swimming Pool Safety
- Glass Safety, and
- The creation of a Standard on assessing risk.
- If the Commission and/or the Parliament are not minded to create Law then the EU must create a pan-European Public Information Campaign(s) on distinct issues. Such a Campaign(s) has a precedent in the EU Public Information on Air Passenger Rights primarily found at airports;
- We would propose that if Public Information Campaigns are the favoured route at this time, then they should primarily concentrate on:
- Fire Safety;
- Carbon Monoxide Safety, and
- Swimming Pool Safety.
- If the latter option of Public Information is either the most practical or favoured option at this time, then there needs to be a clear organised Stakeholder Collective, to represent this option to the Commission & the Parliament;
- In addition, if the appetite for creating Law is not favoured, and in tandem with the creation of a pan-European set of Public Information, the Stakeholder Collective should explore with CEN the potential to create an EU Standard on Holiday Accommodation Safety – this may prove to be attractive to the Commission and ultimately the Member States for inclusion within some legislative framework at a later stage;
- We would finally add that to create this Stakeholder Collective, there is a need to dispense with all preconceptions and prejudice towards any party. Each Stakeholder has a valid position and a point of view and there will be occasions when they will disagree with each other – the Collective should be able, like Standards Committees, to formulate a consensual position on the issues at hand. It is our view that any diverse opinions should not produce a bar to the creation of this Collective, because the ultimate goal is greater than the Stakeholder parts; we stand ready to engage in any such Collective.
Frank Brehany, the Consumer Director for HolidayTravelWatch states:
"It appears fashionable amongst Member States and the EU Commission to currently claim subsidiarity and proportionality as reasons for inaction. Since 2007, we have supplied the EU Commission with reports on failures in the holiday product, which have included some 2,000 holidaymakers stories, each demonstrating the need for pan-European action on Safety in Holiday Accommodation. This need for action was recognised by the EU Parliament but it would seem that we are gifted with a Commission running for cover! It is time that action was taken to protect Consumers, as the Commission is obligated to do under the Lisbon Treaty (search for Tourism & Consumer), and I sincerely hope that our 7 action points will bolster Stakeholders together so that they in turn can call the Commission to account!"