The European Union is set to re-open this summer to American tourists who’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 following a year-plus-long ban on travel, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The European Commission is expected to recommend a change in travel policy across the Union, which will permit non-EU travelers to enter without restrictions. Individual member states will have the right however to enforce keep stricter measures.
Von der Leyen confirmed the news in an interview to the New York Times on Sunday, noting that the successful vaccination rollout in the US combined with Europe’s Green Certificate currently in negotiation process will enable trans-Atlantic leisure travel. She did not provide a clear time frame.
The United Sates is “on track” and making “huge progress”, said Von der Leyen referring to the vaccination rollout in the country, where about 70 percent of the population will have received the jab by mid-June.
“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.
Europe’s drug regulator has already approved all three vaccines being used in the US: Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson.
Greece Already Open to American Tourists
Greece is among the first countries in the EU to open to American travelers on April 19, provided they demonstrate completed vaccination 14 days ahead of travel.
Starting today, Greece also lifted quarantine restrictions for inbound travelers from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, Rwanda, Russia and Singapore.
Greece, which is set to open to all travelers on May 15, is requesting that all incoming tourists present a negative PCR test performed less than three days (72 hours) prior to their trip or a vaccination certificate issued by a public authority in the English language stating that 14 days have passed since the completion of their full vaccination for Covid-19.
In the meantime, according to the NYT, Brussels is looking to implement a “low-tech solution” to enable restriction-free travel based on vaccination. It cites the example of a traveler to Europe who could get an EU vaccination certificate equivalent on arrival after showing a certificate issued by his or her own government.
EU officials stress that this is only a short-term solution which they hope will soon be unnecessary when government-issued vaccine certificates will be acceptable globally.
It should be noted that EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders confirmed last week that the EU’s Digital Green Certificates would be ready by June or July but that vaccination should not be a “precondition for travel”.
Late last week, member states agreed on the guidelines describing the main technical specifications for the implementation of the green pass system. All EU countries are now encouraged to deploy the needed technical solutions at national level.