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The president of the European commission has offered fresh hope of a summer holiday in the EU for those living outside its borders.
Ursula von der Leyen suggested in an interview with the New York Times that Americans who were fully vaccinated would be able to visit the EU in what would be a change of policy on non-essential travel.
The EU adopted tough restrictions on travel into the the bloc’s 27 member states last year. Non-essential trips are only permitted from Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand.
To qualify for the list, countries must record no more than 25 new Covid cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days and no more than 4% of tests carried out in the previous week can return positive.
The latest statistics, dated 20 April, shows the UK recorded 24.7 cases per 100,000 across a seven-day period. The list of countries exempt from the ban is reviewed every two weeks.
Von der Leyen suggested, however, that the EU’s rules on non-essential travel would change in time for summer to also take into account vaccination coverage.
“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” she said. “This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union. Because one thing is clear: all 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA.”
She added that the travel situation would still depend “on the epidemiological situation, but the situation is improving in the United States, as it is, hopefully, also improving in the European Union”.
Last week, EU diplomats opened a discussion as to what criteria could be used to allow Europe’s tourism hotspots to enjoy a summer season.
It was suggested by the commission that the vaccination rates in several parts of the world “support updating the approach for the safe lifting of restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU”.
While a number of northern EU member states are cautious about reopening to tourists, ministers in Spain and Greece, among others, have been outspoken about the needs of their tourism sectors.
The EU is developing a “digital green certificate” that would record whether someone has been vaccinated or had a recent negative test.
Last week Von der Leyen said it would be up to member states whether they wished come to arrangements with non-EU countries to allow such certificates to open up to tourists.
Greece has said it will open its borders to travellers from the US from Monday, provided they show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test.
Spain’s tourism minister, Fernando Valdés, said last week that his country would be ready for mass tourism this summer.
He told Sky News: “We are desperate to welcome you this summer. “I think we will be ready here in Spain and we also think that things on the vaccination scheme of the UK are going pretty well. So, hopefully we will be seeing this summer the restart of holidays.”
The European commissioner leading the EU’s vaccine taskforce, Thierry Breton, told the Guardian earlier this month that he was confident the bloc would hit its target of vaccinating 70% of adults by the end of the summer, permitting it “an almost normal tourist season”.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: EU may let vaccinated Americans holiday in Europe this summer, says Brussels | European Union