Travelers entering the EU are to be assessed on criteria focused on their personal health status rather than on the epidemiological situation of their country or area of departure.
The adoption on February 22 of a new EU Council Recommendation means that EU states are to accept all travelers that are fully vaccinated with EU-approved or WHO-listed vaccines without any restrictions or conditions. EU states should also accept all travelers that are fully recovered travelers without any restrictions or only with the requirement of a negative pre-departure PCR test. EU states can also fully accept fully vaccinated travelers not holding a valid EU DCC or equivalent, subject to a negative pre-departure PCR test.
Airports and airlines both pointed to the body of evidence supporting this approach, with unequivocal guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) along with independent third-party research showing that travel restrictions have little or no impact on epidemiological spread. Although the latest recommendation was welcomed by ACI Europe (Airports Council International) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), they have called for EU states to move further, toward an unconditional acceptance of all WHO-approved vaccines, and also replacing PCR with rapid antigen testing options.
Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said, “We now know beyond any doubt that a regime based on travelers’ personal health status is right for individuals, for economies and for societies. There is no evidence to support any other approach. As the safe resumption of air connectivity gathers pace, it is vital that member states implement this recommendation, bringing structure, predictability and harmonization to the benefit of all. We urge them to do so.”
Rafael Schvartzman, regional vice president for Europe, IATA, said, “We welcome this logical recommendation by the European Council. A vaccinated traveler from outside the EU should be treated no differently to one inside the EU. While we urge member states to implement this recommendation as an important step toward living normally with this virus, it is important that EU considers more flexibility on the approved vaccine list.”