British holidaymakers will get a double boost as the EU gives its final approval to scrap mobile roaming charges and agrees tougher protection for travellers buying package holidays.
The European Parliament has today (27 October 2015) voted in favour of the British-backed proposals.
The new travel rules will extend existing consumer rights on package holidays to include travellers who buy holidays on the internet which look like packages and are marketed as packages. There will also be a clampdown on loopholes which can leave travellers out of pocket and stranded in far-away destinations if their airline goes bust.
The mobile roaming agreement means that from June 2017, additional charges will no longer apply within the EU for making calls, sending texts and using the internet.
Business Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said:
This is a double win for British holidaymakers who will soon benefit from cheaper calls and tougher consumer protection for their package holidays. It shows how the UK is working with the EU to get a better deal for British consumers and holidaymakers.
This EU agreement means that Brits who take their hard-earned holidays abroad will soon be better protected if they buy their travel, accommodation or car hire as part of a package, closing off loopholes and confusion. Today’s vote also means the end is in sight for astronomical bills that so many holidaymakers face after a trip to Europe if they need to use their mobile phones to keep in touch with loved ones back home.
This agreement will mean that the rules governing package holidays from the ‘90s will meet the demands of 21st century holidaymakers.
The new travel rules will:
make clearer what a ‘package holiday’ is, which will now include customised combinations of travel arrangements bought on the internet, and make it clear the protections offered to traditional ‘package’ travellers, often chosen in a brochure and bought in a travel agent, also apply to combined flight/hotel deals found on the internet
give clearer information to travellers on the sort of product they’re buying and the level of protection they get
introduce a new concept of ‘linked travel arrangements’ applying to looser combinations of travel services. Holidaymakers who are given the choice to buy accommodation or organise car hire after buying their flights, for example through low cost airline websites, will now be assured greater protection. Under the current rules, if the airline went bust, and the return flight was cancelled, the traveller would have to organise their own travel arrangements and wouldn’t be entitled to a refund on the original flight. But under the new rules, the tour provider will have to have compensation measures in place as part of their plans for insolvency.
The updated legislation – which has already been agreed by national governments - will come into force by the end of 2017.
On the mobile roaming agreement, consumers will also benefit in the interim, as prices are further cut from 30 April 2016 by around 75%. This means that the cost of using data has dropped by over 95% in the past 4 years. The UK has led from the beginning in getting agreement to end EU mobile roaming charges and has worked with its allies in other EU countries and the European Parliament to get a good deal for consumers.