SP: consumers victim of airlines' influence on EU decision-makers

8 June 2010

SP: consumers victim of airlines' influence on EU decision-makers

In response to pressure from airlines the European Commission has opted to make it more difficult for air travellers to claim compensation for delays and other inconveniences. This became clear from leaked notes emanating from the section of the European Commission which deals with consumers' rights. Forms designed to aid consumers in claiming money back from airlines are becoming harder to get hold of. The SP today put questions both to the Commission in Brussels and to the government in The Hague, as Dennis de Jong, chair of the party's European Parliamentary group, explains: "You can't just let this pass. Consumers have rights in this matter and the Commission's consumer rights department should be helping them. If the airlines need aid they can request it in the normal fashion, but not at the expense of disappointed air travellers."

Dennis de JongA few years ago the SP asked the Dutch government to take the question of the rules governing compensation for damages more seriously. SP Member of Parliament Harry Van Bommel argues that it's hardly fair to aid airlines by messing with the rights of passengers and is demanding government action. "Evidently the Commission isn't standing up to the corporate lobby, so I'm asking the minister whether he will be taking a lead in this himself and ensuring that consumers know their rights now that the Commission has given up on them."

Meanwhile Dennis de Jong has been conducting a more general campaign for more transparency in Brussels, bringing pressure to bear for improvements to rules governing access to documents, for fewer documents to be classified as secret, and for a great deal more transparency when it comes to the activities of the corporate lobby. "This matter is as much proof as you need that the internal market rules which in theory protect the consumer in actual practice protect the industry," he notes. "It's high time that we had a Europe that had an eye for other interests, and not just those of big corporations."

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