EU says fully-vaccinated Americans with ‘proof of immunity’ can visit Europe this summer

EU says fully-vaccinated Americans with 'proof of immunity' can visit Europe this summer Pics: Getty/AP
American hopes of summer holidays in Europe have been given a boost (Picture: Getty/AP)

Fully-vaccinated Americans with proof of immunity will be able to visit Europe this summer.

That’s according to the head of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, who has said trans-Atlantic travel will get back up and running in the coming weeks. Speaking to the New York Times, she has revealed how the EU and the US are in advanced talks for how to make vaccine certificates acceptable for travel, but warned the plans will only be possible if their respective vaccine rollouts continue as planned.

Mrs Von Der Leyen said she expects a ‘free moment’ agreement to be in place between the US and Europe in time for summer holidays, more than a year after all non-essential travel ground to a halt due to the spread of coronavirus.

She also said the deal will be possible because the US is using vaccines that are also most widely in use in Europe.

epa09154264 European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen holds a press conference with the Swiss president during a meeting at the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium, 23 April 2021. EPA/FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS / POOL
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has hopes of welcoming US tourists to the EU in the summer (Picture: EPA)

‘The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines. This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union’, said Mrs Von Der Leyen.

She added: ‘Because one thing is clear, all 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA.’

As of yet there is no sign of a similar agreement between the UK and the US or the UK and Europe, despite Britain’s successful vaccine rollout. So far the UK has given one vaccine injection to more than half of population, 33.6million, and have fully-vaccinated another 12.5million people.

That means well over half of the UK population, 68%, has received at least one jab, which is almost exactly the same amount, in relative terms based on population, as the US. America has fully-vaccinated 95million people and have given one jab to another 140million.

Mrs Von Der Leyen did not say exactly when American tourists will be able to travel to the EU, but her comments represent the biggest statement of intent about international travel from the EU since the pandemic began.

Travelers wearing protective masks line up to check-in for JetBlue Airways Corp. flights in Terminal 5 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York, U.S., on Friday, March 26, 2021. The TSA screened more than 1.3 million people both Friday and Sunday, setting a new high since the coronavirus outbreak devastated travel a year ago. Airlines say they believe the numbers are heading up, with more people booking flights for spring and summer, reports the Associated Press. Photographer: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York could soon see a huge increase in passenger numbers (Picture: Bloomberg/Getty Images)

She noted that the United States was ‘on track’ with its vaccine rollout and is making ‘huge progress’ with its bid to reach herd immunity, or the vaccination of 70 percent of adults, by mid-June.

She did stress, however, how the return of trans-Atlantic travel will depend on the continued suppression of the virus.

Mrs Von Der Leyen said the deal will be under-pinned by ‘the epidemiological situation, but the situation is improving in the United States, as it is, hopefully, also improving in the European Union.’

Technical discussions have been going on for several weeks between European Union and officials in the US on how to make vaccine certificates work reliably, so that tourists can travel freely.

These discussions are continuing, according to officials in Brussels said, and it is possible that a low-tech solution would be used in the near future to enable free travel to vaccinated air passengers.

TINLEY PARK, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 26: SPC Janae Jones of the Illinois Army National Guard administers a COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination center established at the Tinley Park Convention Center on January 26, 2021 in Tinley Park, Illinois. The site is the first large-scale vaccination center in Cook County, which includes the city of Chicago. Workers at the site will be able to distribute 3000 vaccinations-per-day once adequate vaccine supplies become available. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The US has fully-vaccinated more than 95million people (Picture: Getty)

The hope of officials is that government-issued vaccine certificates will play a part in travel between the European Union and America to provide proof of immunity.

While individual member states will be able to make the own rules for who can visit their countries, Mrs Von Der Leyen’s comments suggest the European Commission will recommend a blanket change in travel policy in the near future.

Until now, nonessential travel to the EU from the US has been officially banned with the exception of visitors from countries where cases rates are extremely low, like Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.

The UK meanwhile is expected to announce its shortlist of ‘green’ countries that the government deems safe to travel to, on May 17. It’s not yet clear, however, which countries will make that list and if the countries on the list will be willing to accept British visitors.

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EU says fully-vaccinated Americans with ‘proof of immunity’ can visit Europe this summer