The European Union is poised to accept more tourists after a year of closed borders to countries outside the 27-nation bloc.
“Today, EU ambassadors agreed to update the approach to travel from outside the European Union,” European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said. The European Council is recommending that “member states ease some restrictions, in particular for those vaccinated with an EU-authorized vaccine.”
EU-authorized vaccines are those also used in the United States such as Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. While AstraZeneca is authorized in the EU, it is not yet in the US where it is seeking full and not emergency use authorization. Vaccines manufactured by China like Sinovac and Sinopharm, and those from Russia like Sputnik V, are not authorized in the EU or the US.
According to a Washington Post report, “the EU guidance is not binding, so some countries could choose to be more or less restrictive than the bloc as a whole.”
Individual countries will still be able to choose whether to allow only vaccinated tourists or proof a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine upon arrival.
What does this mean for Filipino and other non-EU travelers once they open borders? If they were inoculated with Sinovac or Sputnik V, they have to check each country’s rules. If they were inoculated with those authorized by the EU and US, they can enter any EU country. Except the UK, which is no longer part of the union.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted May 20 that the European Commission signed an additional order of 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer-Bio’N’Tech vaccine.
“The contract requires that the vaccine production is based in the EU and that essential components are sourced from the EU.”
Last year, the EU opened its borders within the union and to a select few countries, like South Korea, which have managed to control the COVID-19 pandemic. It was based on reciprocal arrangements that excluded the United States.
Previously a hotly debated topic, the vaccine passport looks like the way Europe is going to open ahead of the summer season.
In January, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the union must have a common, digital heath and vaccine certificate. The country opened its borders ahead of the EU, opening its borders in April to 30 countries, including EU members, the US and Israel. Travelers were required to show they had been vaccinated or had a negative PCR test.