EU auditors to examine passenger rights

Passengers at a railway station, during a national railway strike by French railway unions. Lyon, 2 June, 2016 [Reuters]

The European Court of Auditors said on Tuesday (24 October) it would look into how passenger rights are implemented in the EU to examine whether EU regulation has provided effective protection of those rights, in light of discovered grey areas and legal gaps.

The ECA will also look into how the European Commission has monitored implementation and reacted to problems related to passenger rights, it said in an emailed statement, adding that the audit report is expected to be published in late 2018.

The EU is the only area in the world with a set of rules designed to ensure a minimum level of protection for passengers using aviation, railways, ships and buses. Passenger rights are one of the flagship policies delivered by the Commission.

“EU law confers certain rights on passengers,” said George Pufan, a member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the audit.

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“But a number of problems have become apparent since the adoption of current legislation: inconsistencies, grey zones and gaps in legislation, insufficient passenger awareness of their rights and variations in interpretation and enforcement.”

As a policy, the issue of passenger rights has required a small amount of EU spending but, ECA warned, ensuring that these rights are properly implemented may entail significant costs for both carriers and passengers.

In September, the Commission updated European rules on rail passenger rights to better protect train travellers in case of delays, cancellations or discrimination, so that rail passengers should be fully protected everywhere in the EU.

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