With the summer now behind us, Europe is entering a different stage in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. 74% of EU adults are now fully vaccinated and vaccination efforts are ongoing throughout Europe. Despite the continued spread of the virus at community level, the impact of the pandemic on public health has been brought under control within the EU.
In this context, travel and tourism associations welcome the discussions which are currently taking place between Member States about the revision of Council Recommendations on travel restrictions. Amongst others, the Council is considering updating the criteria behind the colour-coded EU travel restrictions map, to include vaccination and hospitalisation rates and not only the incidence rate.
However, considering that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC):
we are hereby calling for the elimination of this colour-coded system altogether and discontinuation of travel restrictions for all Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) holders, irrespective of their country/area of origin. EU countries should thus move towards a traveller risk-based approach, rather than the country-to-country approach that is currently used.
With a focus on the individual traveller, there is no justification to treat international travel any differently than intra-EU travel. While several Member States have already opened non-EU travel outside of the EU under similar conditions as intra-EU, some continue to discourage non-essential travel to any country that is not on the very limited list of safe countries (Annex I of the Council Recommendation, so-called “White List”). International travel should be made possible with the same conditions as for intra-EU travel: based on vaccination, recovery or a negative COVID-19 test; with quarantine requirements and recommendations against non-essential travel strictly limited to very high incidence or variant areas of concern. On this basis, we also call on Member States to abandon the use of the EU White List.
EU leaders must focus on restoring international air travel as quickly as possible, building on the success of the Digital COVID Certificate (DCC). Since its launch in June 2021, the DCC has quickly become the de facto global standard, with over half a billion certificates downloaded. We call on the EU to use its influence and the DCC’s success to accelerate execution on the commitments made during the G7 Summit, whereby members agreed to “a set of common standards for travel including interoperability and mutual recognition of digital applications, testing requirements, recognition of vaccination status and comparable criteria for when responsive measures may be required”.
As travel and tourism stakeholders, we are keen to support the safe restart of our industry and help boost Europe’s economies as soon as possible. In this context, we would like to stress the importance of the following elements: