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Common EU Digital PLF to Launch for Safe Travel in Europe

The European Commission on Wednesday announced that it is preparing to launch a common EU digital Passenger Locator Form (PLF) as one of its measures to facilitate safe travel in the post-Covid-19 era.

“Passenger Locator Forms help member states undertake risk assessments of arrivals and enable contact tracing. A pilot next month will allow member states to prepare for the launch and use of a common EU digital Passenger Locator Form, while fully respecting data protection,” the Commission said.

It is noted that Greece was the first country to launch the PLF system when it opened to tourism in July after the lockdown.

Facilitating safe travel is one of the Commission’s next steps in key areas to reinforce the EU’s response to the resurgence in Covid-19 cases.

Regarding travel, the Commission underlined that free movement within the EU and the border-free Schengen area are prized achievements of European integration. “The Commission is working to ensure that travel within Europe is safe both for travellers and for their fellow citizens.”

Along with the launch of a common EU digital PLF, the Commission’s priority areas for safe travel in the EU include:

– Lifting any remaining COVID-19 related internal border control restrictions.
The Commission once again calls on member states to fully implement the recommendation adopted by the Council on October 13 for a common and coordinated approach to restrictions to free movement.

– Developing a common testing protocol, starting with air travel.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the ECDC are working on a testing protocol for travellers, to be used by public health authorities, airlines and airports to help the safe arrival of passengers.

– A common EU approach to quarantine rules.
The Commission will work with member states and agencies on a common approach to quarantine practices, with inputs from ECDC to be presented in November.

– Offering EU guidance for travellers to be exempted from the temporary non-essential travel restrictions.

– Ensuring that all passengers who need to travel, for work and family-related reasons, are able to do so.

– The launch of the Re-Open EU mobile app in the next couple of weeks to keep citizens informed of health and travel measures across the EU.
Re-open EU provides timely and accurate information on health measures and travel restrictions in all member states and some partner countries. The Commission is calling on member states to provide accurate and up-to-date information to turn Re-open EU into the one-stop-shop for information about health measures and travel possibilities across the EU.

New EU coronavirus response measures

Along with facilitating safe travel, the Commission’s next steps in key areas to reinforce the EU’s response to the resurgence in Covid-19 cases and help limit the spread of the virus, save lives and strengthen the internal market’s resilience, include:

– Improving the sharing of epidemiological data at EU level to allow informed decision-making.
– Establishing more effective and rapid testing. (To directly purchase rapid antigen tests and deliver them to member states, the Commission is mobilising 100 million euros under the Emergency Support Instrument.)
– Making full use of contact tracing and warning apps across borders.
– Effective vaccination. (The Commission is negotiating agreements with vaccine producers to make vaccines available to Europeans and the world as soon as soon as they are proven safe and effective.)
– Effective communication to citizens through campaigns.
– Securing essential supplies. (The Commission has launched a new joint procurement for medical equipment for vaccination.)
– Extending Green Lanes for smooth cross-border supply of goods across the Single Market – from road to rail, air, and water crossing points.

The Commission’s additional set of actions comes ahead of the European Leaders’ virtual meeting on 29 October on Covid-19 coordination.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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