Question to the EC on the refund of advertising fee paid to online platforms for travel bookings cancelled due to COVID-19

Businesses operating in the tourism sector which have pre-paid large amounts of money for advertising on online platforms are demanding a refund due to the pandemic.

For example, in a letter to Google’s CEO, Philipp Schindler, the German start-ups association has called on Google to suspend the execution of payments to those companies that have received government financial support and to show flexibility regarding payments and charges. He also notes that unless Google shows some flexibility, many companies will be forced to use government loans to pay off their debts and therefore state funding paid for by taxpayers will be transferred to Google’s accounts.

Other online platforms have reportedly adopted a different policy from Google and have already agreed with their customers to postpone payments or even to cancel them.

In view of the above, will the Commission say:

How does it view the demands of companies in the tourism sector for the refund of the advertising fees paid for travel bookings that have been cancelled due to COVID-19?

Read the question here

Answer given by Commissioner Breton here.