Senior figures in the industry and at the Department for Transport (DfT) fear the European Commission will fail to finalise reforms to the Package Travel Directive (PTD) ahead of European elections next May.
The proposals, published in July, are subject to review by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers. These have established working parties, but the processes run separately.
Kate Jennings, head of aviation policy implementation at the DfT, said: “The working groups have started but they are only meeting monthly.”
She told a LexisNexis Travel and Tourism Law conference in London last week: “The earliest [we could see final proposals] is next March. But more likely is the next year.”
That would leave nothing resolved before European Parliament elections in May, after which a new commission will be appointed. Jennings said: “The process could take longer if a new commissioner does not prioritise the directive.
“It’s very difficult to predict. That is one of the challenges for us at the DfT.”
The DfT is considering whether to proceed with reforming the Atol scheme and its financing following a recent call for evidence. But the department wants to see how package travel reform proceeds in Europe before acting.
Jennings, who drafted the Flight-Plus Atol regulations, said: “If the PTD is likely to be significantly delayed we would have to consider whether we need to act sooner.”
Tui Travel UK general counsel Mike Bowers warned: “There is a real risk of not achieving it [European agreement on the proposals] by April. We all hope the period it takes the European Commission to pick the PTD back up [after the elections] won’t be too long.”
Bowers said: “The reform has been going on for five to six years, yet it’s almost as if it has been left to the last minute. It has been an awfully long process of policy deliberation and the EC has almost run out of time.”
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