EU opens legal cases against countries over travel refunds

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission is taking the first step in legal procedures against countries that are breaching EU law by not insisting that companies provide cash refunds to customers over cancelled travel or holidays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commission executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager told a news conference on Wednesday that travel firms, including airlines, might create incentives for people to accept vouchers, but EU citizens fundamentally had a right to a refund if they wanted.

“As of today, where we have taken the Commission’s decision on this, letters will be sent to the member states who are in breach of this very fundamental principle. So these letters, they are going off as we speak,” she said of the first formal step in the so-called infringement legal procedures.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Philip Blenkinsop