European Commission proposes to ease restrictions on non-essential travel into Europe

    European Commission (EC) announced (03-May-2021) a proposal that EU member states ease the current restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU to take into account the progress of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and developments in the epidemiological situation worldwide. The EC proposes:

    • Allowing 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 at least 14 days before arrival. This could be extended to vaccines having completed the World Health Organization emergency use listing process;
    • Raising in line with the evolution of the epidemiological situation in the EU, the threshold related to the number of new COVID-19 cases used to determine a list of countries from which all travel should be permitted;
    • Introduction of a new ’emergency brake’ mechanism, to be coordinated at EU level and which would limit the risk of such variants entering the EU. This will allow member states to act quickly and temporarily limit to a strict minimum all travel from affected countries for the time needed to put in place appropriate sanitary measures;
    • Allowing member state to waive the requirements to present a negative PCR test and/or to undergo quarantine for vaccinated persons on their territory, as well as also waiving such requirements for vaccinated travellers from outside the EU;
    • Member states consider setting up a portal allowing travellers 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 an EU Digital Green Certificate;
    • Children who are excluded from vaccination should be able to travel with their vaccinated parents if they have a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken at the earliest 72 hours before arrival area. In these cases, member states could require additional testing after arrival;
    • Amend the criteria for entry take into account the mounting evidence of the positive impact of vaccination campaigns. The proposal is to increase the threshold of 14 day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate from 25 to 100. This remains considerably below the current EU average, which is over 420.

    The European Council will now consider this proposal, with initial discussions taking place on 04-May-2021 and 05-May-2021. Once the proposal is adopted by the European Council, it will be for member states to implement the measures set out in the recommendation. The European Council should review the list of non-EU countries exempted from the travel restriction in light of the updated criteria and continue doing so every two weeks. [more – original PR]

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