EU Governments Prepare to Welcome Back American Tourists
The European Union has now eased its restrictions on American travellers for the first time in 15 months, meaning since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020. On 16 June, the EU added the United States to its list of countries in which the bloc permits entry of its citizens. This motion was formally approved by a meeting in Brussels last Friday.
However, certain EU countries had already freed their borders to vaccinated tourists from the U.S, especially those with an economy dependent on tourism such as Italy, Greece, Spain and Croatia. These countries suffered a sharp drop in their GDP during 2020, which also includes France as well, due to the pandemic’s travel restrictions.
Though the US is now added to the list, EU member countries are still allowed to add their own specific entry requirements which will include providing proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test or evidence that they had already contracted the virus and developed immunity.
Due to these entry requirements, this may cause a strain on mobility of travel throughout Europe for Americans and other permitted tourists, as decisions regarding quarantine and which kind of tests required are yet to be made in some countries. The European Commission has already made efforts to encourage EU member states to coordinate with one another to allow greater flexibility in freedom of movement for travellers.
An influential component to this decision is US President Joe Biden’s recent visit to Brussels to meet with EU officials at an EU-U.S summit on 15 June. Biden’s efforts to amend relations between the two proved to be a deciding factor after his message to the EU.
“America is back. We are committed — we have never fully left — but we are reasserting the fact it is overwhelmingly in the interest of the United States to have a great relationship with NATO and with the EU,” said Biden in a speech during. “I have a very different view than my predecessor.”
Regardless of American openness that will now lead to stronger relations, EU governments are also critical of the United States being unable to return the favor yet. While borders may now be opened for American travellers to Europe, the U.S has still not removed their ban on European tourists.
“It goes without saying that we would expect the same from partner countries outside the EU for EU citizens traveling to those countries,” said European Commission spokesperson Adalbert Jahnz to National Public Radio (NPR), furthermore elaborating that there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
“We have received reassurances that this is a high-priority issue for the U.S. administration” added Jahnz, who revealed that a joint working group convened this month to “reinitiate safe and sustainable travel between the EU and the U.S.”
NPR also interviewed Jeroen Roppe, spokesperson for Visit.Brussels who explained how last year was complete turmoil being unable to welcome tourists. Since many tourists in the Belgian capital come from the United States, Roppe mentioned that “we are very happy to see American tourists coming back to our city.”
Image Attribution: “Vice President Joe Biden visit to Israel March 2016” by U.S. Embassy Jerusalem is licensed under CC BY 2.0