The Council of State rejected the appeal of the consumer defense associations UFC-Que Choisir and CLCV (Consumption Housing Environment) against the ordinance authorizing tour operators to offer a credit, and not a refund, to customers whose stay was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Seized in summary proceedings on July 7, the judge considered “without there being any need to examine the existence of a serious doubt as to the legality” of this order, that the “condition of urgency” was not “fulfilled”, and as a result, rejected the two associations, in an order dated July 17, made public this Monday, July 20.
“Save the cash flow of service providers”
Indeed, the associations did not provide “any precise element on the seriousness of the consequences that this device would entail for the consumers whose interests they defend”: the urgency not being established, there is therefore no need to suspend the prescription. And a possible “disregard” of European Union law relating to “package travel and related travel services” would not constitute an emergency either, said the judge.
The Council of State also argues that “these measures were taken to safeguard the cash flow of service providers, in a context where more than 7,100 travel and accommodation operators registered in France, faced with a volume of cancellations of unprecedented scale and almost zero order intake, were in great difficulty “.
In addition, “the terms of the system adopted were defined after discussions with the services of the European Commission, the main professional organizations and consumer associations”, he underlines.
Ten European Union countries in violation
Since March 25, an ordinance taken by the government allows tour operators and travel agencies to offer customers whose stay cannot be carried out because of the Covid-19, a voucher or a credit note valid for 18 months. in order to preserve their cash flow. And this, while the law usually requires a refund in cash. This credit will be refundable in cash after 18 months if it has not been used.
At the beginning of July, Brussels launched an infringement procedure against ten countries of the European Union, including France, to defend the right of travelers to be reimbursed in the event of cancellation of their stays due to the coronavirus. .
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