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Covid-19 vaccine as a new passport to boost tourism in the European Union




The new deal will allow more residents of third countries to spend their vacations in an EU country (photo: F.Dubessy)
The new deal will allow more residents of third countries to spend their vacations in an EU country (photo: F.Dubessy)
EUROPEAN UNION. The twenty-seven member states of the European Union (EU) reached an agreement on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, to allow entry into the EU to travelers from third countries who have received the necessary doses (one or two) of anti-Covid vaccines authorized at European level. That is, only the products offered by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
As the tourist season prepares to kick off, this agreement puts an end to the decision to close the EU's external borders to "non-essential" travel taken in March 2020. This recommendation, issued by the European Commission and therefore accepted by the European Council, is however not binding. Each Member State, which is sovereign in the management of arrivals on its territory, can therefore choose to apply it or not.

The agreement will complement the "European Covid-19 certificate" for EU members as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. This digital health passport, reserved for Europeans who have been vaccinated or have a negative PCR test or are immune after being infected, is expected to come into force on June 26, 2021 throughout the EU. Provided that the Member States approve it. This is not yet the case, despite negotiations on the subject, Tuesday 18 May 2021, between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Twenty-seven. "The European Parliament calls for a European solution to facilitate free testing, so as to restore the fundamental European right to freedom of movement, avoid discrimination and offer an alternative to people who have not been vaccinated," said, Wednesday evening, May 19, 2021, the European executive in a statement. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, one in six Europeans is currently vaccinated against the pandemic.

 

Easing of criteria for entry into the EU

The incidence rate criterion for inclusion on the shortlist of third countries whose residents may enter the EU will also be relaxed. It will be raised from twenty-five to seventy-five cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants over the last fourteen days. This list currently includes only seven countries: Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand, plus China, pending reciprocity. The new criterion is expected to significantly increase the number of members, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

At the same time, the EU is adopting a new protocol on health and safety for tourist establishments. "It will facilitate the safe reopening of tourism in time for the summer season and enhance the EU's reputation for quality as a tourist destination," as stated in a European Commission release.
Member States will issue a label to companies that agree, on a voluntary basis, to follow this protocol following the standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). 

"The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the tourism ecosystem, causing loss of revenue and threatening millions of jobs. At the same time, health and safety remain major concerns for citizens who yearn for a vacation after long and difficult confinements. The European Covid-19 tourism safety label will help tourism businesses to ensure safety procedures before the summer season, thus increasing the confidence of travelers, residents and workers in the tourism sector," commented Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market.

The costs incurred for the implementation of the protocol and the label will be eligible for European funding, via the European Commission's emergency aid instrument for dealing with the coronavirus, which until now has been used mainly to supply Member States with vaccines. On Thursday 20 May 2021, the Commission announced the signing of a third contract with BioNTech-Pfizer for an additional 1.8 billion doses (of which 900 million are optional) to be delivered between late 2021 and 2023.

 

Eric Apim


Thursday, May 20th 2021



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