President of the EU commission Ursula von der Leyen made a breaking public statement Sunday to The Times in Brussels, giving positive affirmation that American tourists will once again be allowed to travel to and within the European Union, so long as they are fully vaccinated.
“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines. This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.” Said von der Leyen, adding “Because one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A.,”
A travel ban on tourists from the United States, along with most other third-party countries, has been in place since March 17, 2020, effectively shutting down tourism in the EU for over a year. As vaccinations ramp up between both continents, leaders are feeling more confident that trans-Atlantic travel can safely resume.
Since both the European Union and the United States are using the same approved vaccines, an agreement should be easier to come by on how recognize the travelers vaccinated status.
Currently, those inoculated in the U.S. are only given a simple paper card by the CDC, which has basic information like the date, vaccine type and batch, and the recipient’s name. Governments of the 27 EU member states agreed on the technical standards for their vaccine passports called Digital Green Certificates, which are expected to be more advanced than the U.S.’s handwritten cards.
Discussions are currently in progress on how to synchronize the vaccination status between countries, but also for readability and recognition by the airlines who end up enforcing entry eligibility.
When will this come into effect?
No date has been given, but ‘summer’ is the keyword that keeps surfacing, suggesting June may be a viable timeframe.
However, a few EU nations have already removed the entry ban for vaccinated Americans, giving them early access. Both Croatia and Greece amended entry requirements in April 2021 and are now open for inoculated American tourists. In fact, both countries are giving American travelers a choice; bring proof of vaccination or a PCR test.
Will All EU Nations Open Up For Vaccinated American Tourists?
Most likely all EU countries will follow the same advice and direction from the European Commission, but each nation is free to make their own rules at the end of the day.
In July 2020 the EU Commission approved a list of third-party countries that were deemed ‘safe’ and could enter the EU without restriction. The USA was obviously absent from that list.
Some EU countries adopted the list immediately, while others waited months before they decided to grant entry for the ‘Safe-15’ countries. Even as the EU’s ‘safe third-party’ list has shrunk in size throughout the pandemic, some EU nations have ignored the general advice and have made their own entry rules. For example: When Canada was removed from the EU’s safe list near the end of 2020, some nations like Bulgaria and Poland never scratched Canada off and still allow entry for Canadian passengers to this day.
Will this just be for vaccinated American tourists, or other countries as well?
While today’s breaking announcement from Ursula von der Leyen specifically mentioned the United States, the reopening of the EU will likely include vaccinated nationals from additional third-party countries.
Von der Leyen noted that the U.S. was “on track” and making “huge progress” in regard to their fast-paced vaccination, but other nations like the UK, UAE, and Israel equally have impressive rates, which suggests they may be included as well.
The EU Commission will likely release an entire list of countries that will be allowed to travel to the EU this summer, providing they bring proof of approved vaccination. Countries with known mutants or variant strains, like India and Brazil, will likely be absent from the permitted list.
What about the U.S. ban on travel from the Schengen Zone?
Currently, the proclamation Joe Biden signed On January 25, 2021, that continued the suspension of travelers from the Schengen Area, is still in place. However, the positive statements from the EU will likely be acknowledged and reciprocated by the Biden administration soon.
Will anything even be open in Europe this summer?
As each new day brings a higher percentage of populations vaccinated, most EU nations are seeing a downward trend in new cases. Countries like France, Italy, Poland and Czechia are all experiencing a descending curve, which signals attractions, restaurants and other tourism-based activities will be operational this summer.
Many EU nations are still clamping down hard in lockdown, all for the hope if they keep rules strict throughout April and May, they could reopen safely for tourism come June.
- Countries allowing vaccinated tourists – the complete list
- Vaccinated Americans can skip testing/quarantines in these countries
- Travel health insurance for American travelers
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com