Banner image

Updates, news & events

Reports 21 May, 2021 Back

Special Report - EU Vaccination Travel Agreement

Luke Smith

  • On Wednesday, 19 May, European Union (EU) ambassadors from the 27 member states reached an agreement to allow vaccinated persons from outside the EU to visit the bloc for non-essential reasons.

  • Travellers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, at least 14-days before arrival, will be permitted entry to the EU. This means both doses of the vaccine must be administered or one in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccination.

  • The agreement is expected to be given formal approval by state leaders next week.

  • A 'COVID-19 certificate' that will allow travellers to prove they are either vaccinated, recovered from the virus, or have recently tested negative, is currently being developed by the EU.

  • The 'COVID-19 certificate' will likely be introduced at some point in June, in the form of a mobile phone app.

  • The EU is assembling plans to expand a list of countries deemed to have their epidemiological situation under sufficient control, suggesting that all residents can travel regardless of their vaccination status.

  • The list will be determined from data collected from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC). COVID-19 variants, such as the ‘Indian variant’, also known as B.1.617.2, must be taken into consideration. However, individual EU countries are already establishing their own policies.

Situation

On Wednesday, 19 May, European Union (EU) ambassadors from the 27 member states reached an agreement on a proposal issued by the European Commission, which will allow travellers from outside of the EU, who have received full vaccination against COVID-19, to visit the bloc for non-essential reasons. The EU has yet to resolve the method to which travellers will provide evidence of their vaccination status, and thus this may vary from country to country.

A ‘fully vaccinated traveller’ warrants that person to have both doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccine, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccination, at least 14 days before arrival into the country. The Sputnik V vaccine produced by Russia, and the Sinopharm vaccine created by China, will not be authorised for use, therefore travellers with these vaccines will not be permitted entry.

The EU commission has stated that children who are excluded from vaccination should be able to travel with their vaccinated parents if they have a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken at the earliest 72 hours before arrival into the area. Member state leaders will still need to approve the agreement made by the ambassadors, however, there is currently no indication that any will fail to approve the arrangement. This announcement is due at some point next week.

The EU is currently developing a 'COVID-19 certificate', that will allow travellers to prove if they are either vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19, or have recently tested negative. The certificate will likely be introduced at some point in June, in the form of a mobile phone app. Sources suggest the EU is in discussions with countries outside the bloc, including the U.S. and UK, to determine whether visitors from these countries can also use the 'COVID-19 certificate'.

 

The EU will announce a new list of 'safe' countries

Furthermore, the EU are expected to announce a new amended list of “safe” countries, deemed to have their epidemiological situation under sufficient control. The list will be determined from data collected from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC). Currently, the list comprises of Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and China, including Hong Kong and Macao.

Travellers from these countries can enter the EU for non-essential reasons, even if they have not been vaccinated. The UK and U.S. are expected to be amongst those added to the list. The current criterion for the list is that there should be no more than 25 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days, and the trend should be stable or decreasing and there should be a sufficient number of tests, which would need to show a minimum percentage of negative tests.

Initially, the European Commission proposed raising the case rate to 100 per 100,000, although the ambassadors opted for 75 instead. COVID-19 variants such as the ‘Indian variant’, also known as B.1.617.2, will be taken into consideration. An ‘emergency brake’ will be applied to limit the risk of some variants entering the bloc.