The European Council removed the United States from the list of countries whose nationals can travel freely in the EU. Vaccinated Americans are not targeted, but others will need a compelling reason to travel.

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Europe is worried about the evolution of the pandemic in the United States.  She wants to limit access to the EU for unvaccinated people.  (Photo by JAIME REINA / AFP)
Europe is worried about the evolution of the pandemic in the United States. She wants to limit access to the EU for unvaccinated people. (Photo by JAIME REINA / AFP) (JAIME REINA / AFP)

By YEET MAGAZINE | Posted on August 30, 2021 at 6:37 PM Updated Aug 30, 2021, 6:46 p.m.

One step forward, one step back. Three months after their reopening, the borders of the European Union are expected to close soon for unvaccinated travelers from the United States. In any case, this is what the ambassadors of the Twenty-Seven are advocating, who endorsed Monday in Brussels the recommendation of the current Slovenian presidency of the EU to remove the United States from the list of countries from which travel non-essential are allowed.

Reverse

Five other states, including Israel, will also leave this list. It is updated every two weeks according to the evolution of the pandemic and now only counts about fifteen countries, such as Australia, Canada, Japan or South Korea.

In June, the EU reopened its doors to American travelers who had received a vaccine recognized in the Union (this is the case for all vaccines inoculated in the United States) or who have a negative PCR test. By thus copying their own health passport system , they exempted them from compelling reasons for travel and additional measures on arrival, such as quarantines. The good progress of vaccination across the Atlantic, the lull then of the epidemic and the desire to relaunch tourism in Europe for the summer had explained this choice.

Israel also concerned

Against the backdrop of the Delta variant, the tide has turned again, notes the Council. Contamination has started to rise again since early July in the United States, to the point of reaching 166,000 on August 26, a record for seven months. The incidence rate there now exceeds 300, well beyond the ceiling of 75 defined to appear in the "green" list of the EU. Already in mid-August, Brussels had wondered about leaving the United States on this list but had preferred to wait, especially in the middle of the tourist season . The latter is coming to an end and Uncle Sam's health situation has since continued to worsen.

The decision adopted on Monday does not change the game for people vaccinated: as long as the vaccine received is also recognized in Europe, there is no reason to restrict their movements to the Old Continent, judges the Council, thus maintaining the recommendation to this effect acted in June. On the other hand, he now calls for refusing unvaccinated Americans, even tested, except for compelling reasons for travel.

States keep control

Furthermore, each Member State, which is the final decision-maker on its borders, is free to impose additional restrictions or prohibitions on travelers, including those who have been vaccinated, if they deem that the health crisis warrants it. As is often the case on the borders, Germany did not wait for Europe and replaced the United States as a “high-risk” territory from August 15, with quarantine on arrival for the unvaccinated.

If the Council's decision meets predefined health criteria, it also has a political sound. Since July, Europe has unsuccessfully urged the Biden administration to play reciprocity by opening its borders to vaccinated EU nationals. “We need to solve the problem quickly. This should not drag on for weeks ”, was annoyed at the beginning of August Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, in the German press. Washington has not moved since.

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