EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 2 July 2002

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY – INSTANT NEWS ON TRAVEL POLICY IN EUROPE

COMMISSION DOUBTS OVER AIR FRANCE AND ALITALIA ALLIANCE

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 2 July 2002

The European Commission has told Air France and Alitalia that it may not be able to give its approval, under EU competition rules, to their recent co-operation agreement. The Commission believes that the agreement will significantly reduce competition on key routes between France and Italy and work against passengers’ interests on these routes. It has asked the airlines to develop proposals which respond to these concerns. Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said that the final outcome of this case would “depend on Air France’s and Alitalia’s response and particularly on their ability to create conditions to favour the emergence of new competitors on the affected routes”.

Air France and Alitalia notified the Commission in November 2001 of a number of co-operation agreements and requested an exemption under the EU regulation governing the way the EU’s antitrust rules apply to air transport. The agreements aim to integrate Alitalia into the worldwide SkyTeam alliance created by Air France and the US carrier, Delta Airlines. They also envisage a long-term strategic alliance between the airlines.

The Commission warns that the alliance could “restrict significantly competition between Air France and Alitalia as they will agree on passenger capacity, flight frequencies and prices to be charged on flights between France and Italy”. It adds that the two airlines will “control the quasi-totality of the traffic on a number of routes between the two countries” and that the pooling of resources “will also make it difficult for third parties to enter the routes concerned in the future”.

Other bilateral alliances between European flag carriers have run into similar issues of consumer choice and have always found solutions, the Commission said. The current proposed partnership agreement between Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines is a case in point. In this, the two airlines agreed to liberate landing and take-off rights at their hubs so as to encourage other carriers to operate flights between Germany and Austria. A final decision on this case is expected shortly.

SAFETY IN ROAD TUNNELS

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 2 July 2002

The European Commission has published a new leaflet advising road users on how to drive safely in road tunnels and how to save their own lives in emergencies. The publication of the leaflet, “Safe driving in road tunnels”, coincides with the start of the main summer holiday period across large parts of Europe. It is available in all 11 official languages of the EU and is being distributed by national road safety organisations.

MAKING IT EASIER TO TAKE YOUR FAMILY PET ON HOLIDAY

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 2 July 2002

EU agriculture ministers have agreed to ease restrictions on the movement of domestic pets within the European Union. However, they have also reinforced the strict rules which apply to pets brought in from outside the EU. The new regulation will enter into force as soon as the European Parliament has given its approval. Vaccination against rabies will be the sole requirement for pets moving across most EU borders, with electronic microchips/tattoos and EU pet passports providing proof of this. In the case of the UK, Ireland and Sweden, owners will need to have tests carried out on their pets which demonstrate that the vaccinations have worked. Pets which are too young to be vaccinated will be allowed to travel without vaccination. The intra-EU rules will also apply to neighbouring countries such as Switzerland and Norway whose rabies status matches that of the EU. Otherwise, rules will remain strict for pets being brought in from non-EU countries.

CHEAPER CASH WITHDRAWALS AND BANK PAYMENTS FOR TRAVELLERS

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY, 2 July 2002

From today, EU citizens travelling in other EU member states should pay the same for card payments and cash machine withdrawals in euros as they do at home. Holiday and business travel within Europe will become cheaper as a result, with customers no longer having to pay bank charges of, on average, Euro 4 for each Euro 100 withdrawal from cash machines outside their home countries, according to the European Commission.

The change is the result of the EU’s new cross-border payments regulation, which was agreed by the European Parliament and the member states in December last year. This regulation is directly applicable in all member states, and aims to create a “single payments area” so that citizens and businesses can take full advantage of the single currency everywhere in the EU. The provisions for card payments (ie for credit and debit cards) apply to payments up to Euro 12,500 euros. They will not only make it cheaper for people to buy goods and services on their travels in other EU countries. They will also make it cheaper to buy them on the internet or by telephone or mail order. The new rules will apply to credit transfers between bank accounts from 1st July 2003.

Payments in non-euro currencies are covered by the regulation too, provided that the relevant member state notifies the European Commission that it wants the rules to apply. The Swedish government has just done this for the Swedish krona. Exchanging euros for UK sterling or Danish krona remains a foreign exchange transaction subject to the costs and charges normally associated with such transactions.

EUROPEAN TRAVEL POLICY is published by ETP Publishing Limited, UK

email: etp@swing.be

Editorial office: Waterloo Office Park, Drève Richelle 161, Building N, Waterloo, B-1410 Belgium; phone +32 2 381 27 84, fax +32 2 381 27 85

COPYRIGHT: This information may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the prior written authorisation of the publisher.