This summer the European Commission wants to bring foreign tourists and business travellers to Europe again. Although promising, the vaccinations with the Russian Sputnik or the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine do not give access to Europe.
Foreign travellers, whether on vacation or business, are once again welcome in Europe this summer. Because of the summer season and the steadily improving epidemiological situation, the European Commission wants to relax travel restrictions to the Union. The 27 member states must first give the green light for this. The Commission hopes that the European corona certificate, which must guarantee the free movement of Europeans, will be accepted in the world.
The European Commission wants to allow more travellers from outside the Union this summer. At the same time, she wants to quickly impose temporary entry restrictions in the event of an outbreak or a new variant of the virus. Only vaccines recognized by Europe and the World Health Organization (WHO) give access to the Union. The EC hopes that other countries will use the European vaccine passport as a model.
Today Europe is virtually closed to non-essential travel. The threshold that determines which country is considered safe is currently a maximum of 25 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in a period of 14 days. Only tourists from Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea are welcome in Europe. Europe is discussing an agreement with China to admit each other’s travellers.
In the meantime, the vaccination campaign in Europe is finally running at full speed, with the vaccination of 70% of the adult population insight in July. The tourism industry, especially in the southern member states, is begging for travellers. The 27 member states and the European Parliament hope to reach an agreement on a corona passport before the start of the summer season so that the borders in Europe remain open.
The Commission wants to broaden that picture to include tourists from outside the European Union. “It is time to travel safely and visit friends,” said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. To make that possible, she raises the “safe” threshold for the number of new infections to 100. Israel falls within that margin, but the United States is not there yet and for the United Kingdom there are “question marks in place”, acknowledge EU diplomats. Europe does demand reciprocity in lifting travel restrictions. The European Union is well above its own bar with an average of 420 infections.
Europe wants to be able to respond to a rapid deterioration of the pandemic in a country and the emergence of variants. At the European level, an emergency procedure can quickly and temporarily restrict travel from affected regions.
Foreign travellers will have to present a vaccination certificate upon their arrival in Europe. The last vaccination must have been done at least 14 days earlier. But not all vaccines allow access to EU territory. Europe only accepts the four vaccines approved by its own European Medicines Agency (EMA). Those include Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen or those authorized for emergency use by the WHO. The Russian Sputnik and the Chinese Sinopharm are not part of these authorized medicines.
The Commission expects the Member States to reach an agreement this month on the reopening of tourism flows. And she secretly hopes that the “digital green certificate”, as she dubbed the corona passport, will be accepted in the rest of the world. Travellers from third countries will also have to present a vaccination certificate at the external borders. This will let them travel freely in Europe, which is in line with the European pass. If the Member States impose additional obligations on travellers, such as quarantine, these should apply to both Europeans and foreigners.