The EU could be about to lift restrictions on travelers from the United States. The decision on a proposal to add the US to the EU-wide white-list is expected today – June 16th. This would be a welcome next step in removing severe travel restrictions in place for over a year.
US addition recommended
As reported by Bloomberg on June 15th, Portugal (which currently heads the EU) has recommended the addition of the US to the so-called ‘white list’ of approved countries. It proposes adding nine countries to the list – the US plus Albania, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macau, the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, and Taiwan.
This would allow travelers from the US to enter an EU country without quarantine requirements and travel freely within the EU. Entry would be controlled by individual countries, with the country of arrival responsible for issuing a digital vaccine passport. Crucially, the addition to the white-list would be an EU-wide rule – whereas, at present, only a few EU countries allow entry.
The inclusion on the white-list would also improve the situation for transit passengers. Currently, it is very difficult for US passengers to transit at a European airport – this restriction would also be lifted.
Decision expected soon
The proposal is expected to be voted on by EU government envoys in Brussels on Wednesday, June 16th. If there are no objections, it will be passed, and the US added to the white-list. But there could be objections or further delays.
While the possible inclusion is good news for US residents and airlines, the full benefit won’t be seen until the US reciprocates with its ban on entry from the EU.
It also won’t help UK-bound passengers or British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, either. The UK seems to be heading in the opposite direction, with a decision to extend domestic re-opening until later in the summer and no further progress with additions to its so-called green list for approved travel. It has launched a task force to consider a UK-US travel corridor.
Improving EU restrictions
There have been extensive and complicated travel restrictions in the EU since the start of the pandemic. This affects not just travelers from outside the EU but also intra-bloc travel. There have been attempts to simplify the restrictions, but different rules have been applied by different countries for much of the pandemic.
The travel industry is desperate for simplification to these rules, as well as extension outside Europe. From July 1st, travel within the bloc for vaccinated EU citizens should be possible using digital COVID certificates.
The current white-list for EU entry includes Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. China is also included, but only if it confirms reciprocal agreements with the EU. This proposed extension to the white-list would be a welcome next step in this opening up.
Are you frustrated by ongoing EU and US travel restrictions? What would the removal of restrictions on US citizens mean to you? Feel free to discuss this in the comments.