The European Commission has proposed that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 should be allowed entry to the EU, provided that the virus has been adequately suppressed in the country of departure.
The bloc’s executive leadership recommended on Monday that member states lift restrictions on “non-essential” travel for foreigners who have received all necessary doses of a jab authorised for use within the EU, at least 14 days before arrival.
“Time to revive EU tourism industry and for cross-border friendships to rekindle – safely,” EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted.
The EU currently only allows non-essential travel from seven countries.
The proposals will also contain an “emergency brake” allowing member states to limit travel quickly in response to new variants or a deteriorating health situation in non-EU countries. This would be reviewed every two weeks.
Discussions on the plans will begin on Tuesday.
The EU has already announced plans for a digital certificate, which would cover anyone who is either vaccinated against Covid-19, has a negative test or has recently recovered.
Brussels added that states could choose to extend the guideline to include all vaccines that have been signed off by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use.
Currently the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has granted emergency approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson jabs.
The proposal also said that EU members that choose to waive Covid testing or quarantine requirements for vaccinated EU citizens should extend the policy to vaccinated travellers from outside the bloc.
However, travellers will only be allowed to enter the EU if they are coming from a country with a “good epidemiological situation”.
The commission said that as the health crisis improves worldwide, it hopes to raise the threshold of new coronavirus cases used to determine which countries will be greenlit for cross-border travel.
The commission said that until its digital “green certificate” vaccine passport system is fully implemented, member states should accept proof of vaccination from non-EU countries, provided the documentation can be authenticated and contains all relevant data.
Member states could create web portals that will allow foreign travellers to ask for recognition of a vaccine passport from a non-EU state, as well as request a green certificate once it comes into use.
Discussions about the proposal are expected to begin this week. If the plan is adopted by the European Council, it will then be up to each member state to implement the measures.
Vaccine passports have been hailed by some authorities and experts as necessary in order to contain Covid-19 and reboot travel.
However, critics say such schemes are a vast government overreach. The Council of Europe passed a resolution in January saying that vaccination should not be mandatory and that those who did not receive Covid-19 jabs “may not be discriminated against in any way”.