Macron: Vaccinated Americans can travel to France from early May
The President gave an English-language interview on American television last night, in which he discussed travel between France and the US, Covid vaccines and more
President Emmanuel Macron last night announced a gradual lifting of French travel restrictions for Americans who have received two doses of Covid vaccine, from “the beginning of May”.
The President was speaking in a live interview, in English, for American network CBS news on April 18.
He said discussions on how to resume international travel between the US and France had already started with the White House, with “ministers in charge finalising the technical discussions”.
Travel dependent on vaccination, testing and health passes
Mr Macron said that travel would be possible, as France’s vaccination programme was “catching up” with other countries.
He said: “We have vaccinated more than 12 million people… and we will gradually lift the restrictions at the beginning of May, which means that we will organise in summertime for French and European citizens [to travel], but also American citizens."
He said that vaccinated Americans would have a “special pass” for travel to France, but did not immediately expand on what this would mean.
It is likely that he was referring to the European digital pass - a smartphone pass containing health information such as vaccination status - which will be released in June to facilitate travel between European countries.
The President said: “The idea is to offer [the same pass] to American citizens when they decide to vaccinate or with a negative PCR test.”
“The idea is to control the virus, to maximise vaccination, and to gradually lift the restrictions and have the best possible summer - with the opportunity for [American] citizens to come to our country.”
Vaccination ‘partnership’ between EU and US needed
The President praised American efforts in the “innovation and acceleration” of Covid vaccines, but said that Europe would be the global leader in vaccine production in the future.
As such, the US and EU should “team up in the coming months and years” to continue vaccination efforts domestically, but also around the world, he said.
Mr Macron said that France would not use the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to replace deliveries of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to Europe, which have been paused by the pharmaceutical company as it investigates incidents of blood clots possibly related to the vaccine.
Mr Macron said the Russian vaccine was not being considered as a replacement as it has not yet been approved by European authorities, and the current priority in France is to use vaccines that can be produced in Europe, including Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.
The President also spoke about a “critical” partnership between the US and Europe in giving vaccine aid to poorer countries.
He said: “Between now and June we have to send the maximum number of doses - which is a tiny part of what we get for us [in each country] - to vaccinate workers in healthcare systems in Africa,” and also Latin America.
He acknowledged that this aid was “limited”, but said: “These guys are working hard to preserve the health system, and it’s something we can do”.
After summer, more doses will be sent to vaccinate the wider population, he said.
Key points from the rest of the interview
Mr Macron went on to discuss various topics of global importance, including the climate crisis, relations with Russia, racism, and regulation for big tech.
On the climate, he said President Biden was “100% right” to suggest lower emissions targets for countries in the Paris Climate Agreement. While “extremely happy” that the US re-joined the agreement in January 2021, he said that India and China should also commit to reducing emissions. In France he said that the focus was on replacing coal with nuclear energy and renewables, and investing in innovation in green technology.
He said he had “made a mistake” in increasing petrol prices in 2018 as an environmental measure, which ultimately sparked the gilet jaunes protests in France. In doing so, he said, “we underestimated the impact on the middle classes”. Future plans should have a “green and social agenda” to make transitions to ecological solutions easier for people.
Asked about the potential for a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mr Macron said he agreed with President Biden, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, that Russia must de-escalate military forces at the Ukrainian border. While in favour of a diplomatic approach, he said France and others should be clear that a Russian invasion of the Ukraine would be unacceptable, and have “credible” consequences, including sanctions.
On racism and social inequality, he said the US and France face “similar challenges” even if they have different histories. “What we need on both sides of the Atlantic is a policy of recognition – building our unity by being more efficient against inequality and discrimination, and working for unity by recognising difference.”
The President called for more regulation of big tech companies, and said this should be a shared goal for the US and Europe. “We have to fight against anti-Semitism, racism and hate speech on social networks,” he said. “We have to create a new public order, because this is public space.”