EU ambassadors are to meet tomorrow to discuss a generalised EU plan to make it easier for visitors to come from non-EU countries such as the UK and US.
One idea EU states' permanent representatives to the EU will discuss is raising the Covid incidence rate for countries from which holiday visitors can be allowed. This is currently only 25 cases per 100,000, but it is proposed to raise it to 100, which would include the UK (45) but not, at present, the US (176).
This proposal was put forward by the European Commission.
The EU currently officially only recommends allowing visits from a restricted ‘green list’ of Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and, subject to reciprocity, China.
However, individual countries do not necessarily adhere to this and France, for example, already allows UK visitors.
The agenda is also expected to include ideas such as how to integrate non-EU countries into the EU’s planned ‘digital green certificate’ scheme, which will allow free travel for those who have proof of being vaccinated against Covid, having had a recent test or having had the disease and recovered from it.
It is hoped that this could, for example, mean that UK visitors who have had their full vaccinations, could come into France this summer without a test or requirement to self-isolate in France. It is unclear however if this could be subject to reciprocity.
This comes as Europe Minister Clément Beaune has stated that legislation on France’s version of the certificate, called a ‘health passport’, is expected to be adopted in the coming days. It is intended to be operative by mid-June.
President Macron has also spoken of ‘welcoming back vaccinated tourists’ from June 9, however there have been no details of this so far, nor of France’s plan for a traffic light scheme for French residents travelling to non-EU destinations, ‘from the end of May’.
An EU diplomat told The Connexion: “Clément Beaune has said the number one priority is to ensure a return to free movement within the EU itself, and after that to deal with the non-EU foreigners.
“But entry of non-EU foreigners will no doubt come up tomorrow, with several different elements up for discussion, though I can’t say if there will be a final agreement tomorrow; it will probably take a little more time.
“Among the issues is the question of the incidence rate for classifying countries, which was only 16 last summer; now the Commission proposes it should be 100 instead.
“There is also the question of an ‘emergency brake’ measure if a new variant comes along causing disruption, that doesn’t exist yet today, that would allow for pan-EU measures to react to it.”
He said he could not comment on the situation for the UK and USA as the initial plan is to treat all countries according to generalised criteria.