EU flags at the European Commission

Leading associations fear half-baked measures on EU ticketing regulation

EU flags at the European Commission ProMedia

10 European and international associations sent an open letter to European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans this Wednesday, after learning that the Commission is considering to downgrade its original ambition regarding upcoming regulation on ticketing. “The interests of European travellers and reaching the EU climate goals must remain at the heart of the initiative.”

The European Commission is working on the upcoming Regulation on Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS). This should improve booking of tickets across different modes, such as rail, bus, air and maritime transport. “Since the inception of this Regulation, we have advocated for the EU to ease the booking of (multimodal) transport journeys involving different transport offers across all modes and operators into a single booking. This initiative is a crucial piece of the transition towards a more sustainable mobility system and has the potential to play an important role in encouraging the much-needed shift to rail”, the associations say in the open letter.

“However, we now understand that the Commission is considering downgrading the ambition of its proposal by discarding this central aim of the initiative. Therefore, we call on you to ensure that the Commission keeps a high level of ambition for this Regulation”, they say to Vice President Timmermans.

Failing fundamental objectives

The letter is signed by 10 associations: the Alliance of Passenger Rail New Entrants ALLRAIL, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and umbrella group for 46 independent consumer organisations, the European Network of Business Travel Association (BT4Europe), the European Passengers’ Federation (EPF), the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (ECTAA), Transport & Environment, civil society for rail renaissance Europe on Rail, the German alliance for fair competition in passenger rail transport Mofair, and EU travel tech, which represent global distribution systems (GDSs) and travel distributors.

“If the MDMS Regulation were to only focus on giving passengers access to ticketing data and then “re-linking” them to transport operators’ websites, it will have failed in its fundamental objectives: making consumers lives easier, facilitating new services and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a modal shift towards more sustainable transport”, they write in the letter.

“Anti-competitive practices of dominant operators”

According to the signatories, this would be “alarming close to the Status Quo, which is unanimously considered as unsatisfying”. The regulation would not address the “anti-competitive practices of dominant operators, which prevent integrated booking via independent distribution channels, aiming at limiting comparison and combination across operators and modes”.

They point to a number of ongoing ticketing cases and investigations against state-owned incumbents, such as the Commission opening an investigation into possible anticompetitive practices by Renfe in online rail ticketing, and the German Bundeskartellamt having the preliminary conclusion that certain practices and contractual clauses used by Deutsche Bahn (DB) in relation to mobility platforms constitute an abuse of market power.

The reason the European Commission is making this new regulation is that it sees there is currently market failure when it comes to sharing of data, which is necessary for offering booking services across different modes or transport operators. “We found in our impact assessment that there is market failure, namely when it comes to sharing of data”, said European Commission Policy Advisor Charlotte Nørlund-Matthiessen at a discussion about the ticketing regulation organised by CER.

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Author: Esther Geerts


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