“America is back!” proclaims the Biden administration at every moment, reassuring the European allies on the revival of transatlantic ties. Now American tourists are also back, after the European Commission advised lifting restrictions on travelers from the United States.
The question that many European citizens are asking is: when will the European Union be able to “return” to the United States?
European Commission spokesman Adalbert Jahnz has no answer to this. “It goes without saying that we expect the same from non-EU partner countries for European citizens traveling to those countries. This is something we make clear to our partners, and we have received the assurance that this is a priority issue for the US administration.”
But the EU-US ministerial meeting. US held on Tuesday (22.06.2021) reported no progress. “We are focused on easing travel restrictions. We understand the imperatives involved,” US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at a joint press conference. “We base our decisions on the public health data we have. We are accelerating our plans as much as possible.”
US Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas met with EU Justice Commissioner Reynders. (22.06.2021).
However, “public health data” show that the epidemiological situation in the European Union, compared to that of the United States, is good and constantly improving. “Europe is the most vaccinated continent in the world,” European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas said at the event.
“It’s just not profitable”
In the meantime, however, the European tourism industry will reap some benefits from the opening of borders. Jeroen Roppe, spokesperson for Visit.Brussels, the communications agency of the Belgian capital’s tourist office, says the US market is one of the most important for the EU. “The health situation is a constant concern for us, but at the moment we are very optimistic,” says Roppe. “We are very happy that American tourists are returning to our city.”
However, the airlines that bring these American tourists to European cities – but have few passengers in the opposite direction – have problems. Jennifer Janzen of Airlines for Europe (A4E) says this is a serious problem for airlines and ultimately travelers who will have fewer options.
“The planes are unfortunately one-way, which is simply not profitable, or not sustainable in the long term and will affect the number of flight connections,” Janzen told DW. “We’re going to see a lot of airlines quickly start looking at these routes in the summer months. And frankly, that could also lead to short-notice cancellations if planes aren’t full enough. We need reciprocity.”
There will be no vacation without verification
But there is another question of reciprocity that remains unresolved, and that has to do with the type of documentation on their COVID-19 status that travelers will need to enter an EU country. From July 1, EU citizens and residents will need to have a “digital COVID certificate” indicating whether they are vaccinated, have a negative PCR result or have recently recovered from coronavirus. This digital verification system is intended to be interoperable across the block and to facilitate travel to multiple destinations.
The United States does not have standardized documentation of vaccinations or tests that can be automatically recognized by EU authorities. “This is a very important issue for us,” says Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission, which represents national tourism organisations. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes over the past two years and we can’t have another wave, or something horrible again over the summer, because that would be the end of the travel industry. and tourism.”