May 13, 2020 / 10:59 AM / 22 days ago

EU opens legal cases against countries over travel refunds

FILE PHOTO: European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager presents the EU executive's economic response to the coronavirus epidemic in Brussels, Belgium, March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

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

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