The European Union is seeking to resume “transatlantic travel as soon as it is safe to do so,” and is urging member nations to take a unified approach to opening borders to US citizens.
EU officials have been “following very closely the progress of vaccination in the United States,” Adalbert Jahnz, spokesperson for the European Commission said at a news conference on Monday, adding that the speedy rollout there is promising in terms of lifting travel restrictions to Americans,
Talks are underway between the EU and the US regarding a possible ‘vaccine passport’ with the European Commission preparing a proposal for member states to “amend the recommendation on the external travel restriction, in order to take into account, the recent developments.”
Jahnz stressed that the lifting of travel restrictions depends on the epidemiological situation in the countries involved.
“The spread of variants remains a concern which is why from our perspective a coordinated approach on a European level remains essential,” he said. However, the final decision on whether to allow travel to an EU member state will come from each country individually, as decisions about borders are made by the member state, and not the European Commission, according to EU guidelines.
“This coordinated approach is set out in a Council recommendation, which was agreed by all Member States and it should be followed, which is in the interest of all Member States and of the EU in general, and Member States themselves have underlined the need to have such a common approach,” he said. “Unilateral approaches from our perspective should be avoided.”
Italy welcomed the proposal to open up to non-EU travelers and the tourism minister said in a statement to CNN that it already has plans to start lifting restrictions. Non-EU tourists “will not be obliged to follow the quarantine if they are vaccinated, or immune or with negative swab test, carried out 48 hours prior entry. This rule will become effective very soon,” Massimo Garavaglia said.