For weeks news about the EU finally reopening for foreign tourists has been circulating, but today in Brussels the EU council took it a step further and officially submitted a formal proposal to Member States.
The proposal, which is suggested to have majority support from the EU nations, essentially suggests that vaccinated travelers from third-party nations (like the USA, UK, and Canada for example), should be permitted to enter EU countries for non-essential reasons like tourism, starting this summer.
Below we are explaining when this could come into effect, options for non-vaccinated travelers, families traveling with children, and more answers to the EU reopening for foreign tourists.
In a press release, the European Commission stated: “The Commission proposes to allow entry to the EU for non-essential reasons not only for all persons coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation but also all people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorised vaccine.”
EU accepted vaccines include the two-dose Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson.
“the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in third countries, and the subsequent positive effect in limiting the spread of the virus, indicate that there is room to ease travel restrictions, particularly for those already vaccinated,” reads the official document.
If approved, leisure travel for vaccinated passengers from most countries worldwide could re-start in a matter of weeks. Some EU nations, notably Croatia and Greece, have already taken matters into their own hands, allowing vaccinated tourists from third-party countries early entry, despite the outcome of the EU Commission’s proposal. France and Spain have also recently announced their intentions to allow foreign tourists as early as June.
Science says: Vaccinated tourists are in fact lower risk
The EU recognizes the latest scientific data that suggests vaccinated passengers are in fact a lower risk at spreading the virus. Because of this data, the lifting of non-essential travel restrictions is the next logical step, and an important one for the EU’s economy.
The proposal sent out to all EU nations this morning reads: “Scientific advice and empirical evidence on the effects of vaccination are becoming increasingly available and consistently conclusive on the fact that vaccination helps in breaking the transmission chain.”
Plan comes with a built in safeguard against variants
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission tweeted this afternoon:
“Time to revive Flag of European Union tourism industry & for cross-border friendships to rekindle – safely. We propose to welcome again vaccinated visitors & those from countries with a good health situation. But if variants emerge we have to act fast: we propose an EU emergency brake mechanism.”
The ‘emergency brake’ clause is mentioned in the proposal and explained as the following:
“However, few or no studies are yet available on whether variants of concern escape the immune response induced by the various COVID-19 vaccines. Therefore, in line with the precautionary approach, an “emergency brake” mechanism should be established in order to allow Member States to adopt, in a coordinated way, urgent and time-limited measures to quickly react to the emergence of a variant in a given third country that has come under specific scrutiny, and in particular where it has been designated by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) as a variant of interest. This emergency brake should allow for appropriate measures, including limitations of entry, to be taken, with a view to preventing its import and spread in the EU+ area. Such measures should be subject to rapid coordination in the Council to allow for a common approach.”
What about families traveling with children?
Since the vaccines recognized by the EU are not approved for under the ages of 16, many parents are wondering how travel plans will work when they include children.
The EU’s proposal includes advice regarding kids and states children should be able to accompany fully vaccinated parents, providing they can also show proof of a negative 72-hour PCR test.
How will passengers prove they’ve been fully vaccinated?
While the EU scrambles to finish and fully adopt their Digital Green Certificate program, the proposal mentions EU State Members should accept “third country certificates based on national law”, which is rumored to include the UK’s NHS and the U.S.’s CDC paper cards.
When could this proposal be approved by EU Member States?
A first discussion is scheduled at the Council’s integrated political crisis response (IPCR) meeting taking place on May 4th, followed by a discussion at the meeting of EU Ambassadors (Coreper) on May 5th.
If accepted and adopted by council, each member state will still have the freedom to make their adjustments (like adding in a PCR or rapid test for example), but could make official statements within days.
What about non-vaccinated third-party countries?
The proposal included that non-essential travel can also be lifted for travelers from countries that are deemed as ‘low-risk’ and have a favourable epidemiological situation, even if they are not vaccinated.
Since June 2020 the EU has implemented a ‘safe-list’ of third-party countries that has been as large as 15 nations, currently only at 6, including Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. The EU commission is proposing to increase the threshold of 14-day cumulative Covid-19 case notification rate from 25 to 100, which will include many more nations.
This will give un-vaccinated travelers from low risk countries the ability to also enter the EU this summer.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories