For a number of years ABTA has been pushing the regulators in the Republic of Ireland to accept ABTA bonding as a means of complying with the Package Travel Directive for sales in Ireland by ABTA Members. The Irish Government has continued to object to such a measure. This is coupled with their ongoing attempts to regulate travel agents in the UK who sell flights departing from Ireland.
In 2010 ABTA sought a resolution to this issue by way of the European Commission alternative dispute resolution process but no progress was made at that time. The European Commission has now, however, issued a statement requiring Ireland to take measures to change their regulatory procedures with regard to package holiday sales and we are hopeful that this will make it easier for UK tour operators to sell in Ireland without having to obtain additional licenses or bonding.
The European Commission has made the following statement:
Free movement of services: Commission requests Ireland to remove barriers to travel agents and tour operators
The European Commission has today requested that Ireland respect the principle of free movement of services as regards travel agents and tour operators (Article 56 TFEU, Article 16 Services Directive, Article 3 e-commerce Directive). Ireland’s legislation and administrative practice requires that tour operators and travel agencies from other Member States, intending to provide services in Ireland, obtain an Irish authorisation, subscribe to an Irish bond, have a minimum capital required by Irish law and indicate a postal address in Ireland. These provisions do not take into account the fact that such service providers are entitled to provide services in other Member States and are already subject to insolvency protection requirements in their Member State of establishment, according to the Package Travel Directive. Such EU service providers should therefore be entitled to provide services cross-border on a temporary basis (including electronically) in Ireland without being subject to unjustified or disproportionate requirements. As Ireland has not yet amended these provisions, the Commission requests Ireland, in the form of a reasoned opinion, to take action to fully comply with EU rules. If the Irish authorities do not notify measures taken to ensure compliance with EU rules within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the EU Court of Justice. More information.
ABTA will be following this issue closely and will update Members about developments via ABTA Today. If your business is encountering issues selling packages in Ireland we would welcome hearing your experience to inform our lobbying. Please contact Stephen D’Alfonso, Head of Public Affairs on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3117 0561.