The S&D Group has clear priorities when it comes to a post-COVID-19 strategy for the tourism and travel sector. This is why we called on the European Commission, EU Council and the European Council to save the industry through immediate measures. We are happy that the Commission’s package on Tourism and Transport, released today, has been drafted in the right direction. It is again an example on how Europeans are addressing together the current and upcoming challenges created by the pandemic.
We, socialists and social-democrats believe that only a strong, smart, sustainable and coordinated EU-wide action can overcome this crisis, this is why our political family requested several concrete actions in a letter addressed to the European Commission and Member State leaders. We are happy to see that the Commission also supports our proposals.
European tourism has to be relaunched in a harmonised way. Tourism represents 10% of the EU’s GDP with jobs of 27 million workers in the sector. It is not even a question we need to help businesses, including SMEs of the sector, which are facing with unprecedented difficult situation, but at the same time we also need to protect the costumers’ rights and no regression can be accepted on those rights.
Citizens need to be reassured that travelling will be possible and safe this year. Reopening the Schengen borders should happen as soon as possible and we cannot allow any discrimination on free movement, therefore, reopening borders only between certain areas or for certain nationalities, solely for economic gain must remain unacceptable. We also underline that every contact tracing app must comply with EU data protection and privacy rules and should be based on anonymized data, whilst the use of these apps must strictly remain only voluntary-based and cannot be linked to border crossings as a condition.
We also welcome the Commission’s recommendation on vouchers provided by airlines, as we declared several times that consumers have to be able to choose freely between reimbursements and attractive vouchers. Marc Angel, member of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee of the European Parliament also underlined that voucher offer cannot affect the passenger’s right to opt for reimbursement instead. This is a matter of legal certainty for costumers.
We are happy that the Commission has followed the line the S&Ds have advocated, however we should also underline, in the long term, a European Travel Guarantee Fund is needed to ensure the financial stability of the aviation and tourism sector and consumers’ rights at the same time.
- S&D Press release on the letter to the European Commission, EU Council and Council of the European Union
- Marc Angel’s press release ‘The regression of passengers’ rights must be avoided over businesses cash-flow requests’
- Marc Angel’s press release ‘Die Privatsphäre der Bürger muss auch während Covid-19 gewahrt bleiben’
- Marc Angel’s written statement on the tracing apps to the May 2020 plenary session will be available soon here