As suggested in recent press, the European Commission is proposing that “Member States ease the current restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU to take into account the progress of vaccination campaigns and developments in the epidemiological situation worldwide.” Here is a link to today’s EU press release. We consider this to be positive news, and in line with our view that Europe will largely be re-opened by the Fall 2021. However, the devil in the details, and the timing remains uncertain. As a result, the next several weeks will be something of a nail-biter period for those hoping to travel this year.
First, “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.” But exactly what proof will be required / accepted remains unclear. The press release suggests that the EU is moving toward establishing a “Digital Green Certificate” that will verify vaccinations in the EU countries. For non-EU citizens, “travelers should be able to prove their vaccination status with a Digital Green Certificate issued by Member States’ authorities on an individual basis, or with another certificate recognised as equivalent by virtue of a Commission adequacy decision.” How will the EU handle American vaccination cards, given recent press articles about counterfeit certificates? One possibility in the proposal: “Member States could consider setting up a portal allowing travelers to ask for the recognition of a vaccination certificate issued by a non-EU country as reliable proof of vaccination and/or for the issuance of a Digital Green Certificate.”
Second, this is only a proposal at this stage. It will be discussed in various groups on 4 and 5 May. “Once the proposal is adopted by the Council, it will be for Member States to implement the measures set out in the recommendation.” Assuming it is adopted, implementation rates and dates will likely vary among EU countries.
Third, EU lawmakers are providing an “emergency brake” in this legislation: “When the epidemiological situation of a non-EU country worsens quickly and in particular if a variant of concern or interest is detected, a Member State can urgently and temporarily suspend all inbound travel by non-EU citizens resident in such a country.” Thus, there is always some risk that things shut down quickly in one or more EU countries.
Fourth, over the last two weeks, EU countries have seen good improvement in the percentage of citizens who received their first shot, but the percentage of fully vaccinated citizens remains well behind the UK and U.S., as shown in the table below:
|3 May||18 April|
|Country||Vaccinated||Fully Vaccinated||Vaccinated||Fully Vaccinated|
Remember, that vaccination rates in EU countries still have to improve significantly before one can expect the end of travel restrictions, in-country lockdowns and mandatory quarantines!
In conclusion, progress is being made toward allowing non-essential travel from the U.S.; but the rate of improvement needs to pick up. Stay tuned. At Knee Deep Into History we will continue to provide periodic updates.
A list of our September 2021 tours to the Ardennes, the Meuse Argonne and St. Mihiel and Flanders Fields and the Somme can be viewed at our website https://kneedeepintohistory.com
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