In news that many travel-hungry Americans have been waiting for, the president of the European Commission has just recently confirmed that all vaccinated Americans will soon be able to travel to Europe. This will be the first time that Europe has opened freely to Americans in over a year. But, there are big questions left.
The EU Will Soon Welcome Vaccinated Americans
To hear it right from the source, here is what Ursula von her Leyen, president of the European Commission, said to The New York Times: “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. Because one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A.”
Those vaccines that are currently used in the US, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson&Johnson are currently all approved by the EMA.
Nothing was said by her as to when the gates will open but it is a clear sign that the European Union plans to open them for this summer. Meanwhile, Greece, for example, has already opened their borders to Americans who are either vaccinated or have a negative PCR test.
There Are Still Questions
Note that this is a preliminary statement with no specifics shared yet so it is understandable that we don’t have details just yet. Those details when they come out may answer these questions. But, until then, here are the questions that we have.
First on the list is what will the European Union bloc countries do about travelers under 16? Summer travel is huge with families that are using the time off from school for vacations. But, with the US not currently allowing those under 16 to receive the vaccines, this means that these travelers could possibly not be welcome in the EU when they open.
Greece will let anyone enter from America as long as they are vaccinated or have a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival. These tests must be performed on all travelers over the age of 5 (this used to be over the age of 10 just a few months ago). So, they have a plan in place to handle this but what will the rest of Europe do?
Another question is will all European Union bloc countries follow the same rules? The European Commission is not a regularly body that dictates to the individual countries on what they must do but they simply make recommendations. Obviously, member states have been having discussions that lead the EU to make a blanket statement that all 27 member countries will allow those who are vaccinated.
But, each country is free to do as they want to allow entry beyond that, such as with negative tests or even a past positive test. Also remember that we have the European Union which is not all of Europe and we also have the Schengen Zone that has the common external borders. For example, Switzerland is in the Schengen Zone but not in the European Union.
Another question is what will these EU member countries require for proof of vaccination? Currently, people in the US that get vaccinated get a CDC card that would be something that could easily be faked. Will the EU accept this or require some further proof such as a digital certificate? While Greece, Spain, and others have been at the front of pushing a Covid Passport of sorts, other countries like France have balked at this as they do not want to create two systems of people – those who have been vaccinated and those who have not, especially since it is not available to everyone yet.
Then we have things like Israel that will not give the vaccine to those who have had the virus as they consider that good enough. Will the EU accept this kind of thinking?
The bottom line on travel to Europe for Americans is that it is still too soon to know what to expect. Here is what I am anticipating. Americans who are vaccinated will have free access while many of the countries in the EU will open up even further to continue to allow travelers to enter that have a negative test. This or they will require a test upon entry for those that have not had the vaccine (though this will be more difficult and likely not as preferred since they could technically be on the airplane as a positive case).
But, it is a good sign that the EU is willing to start opening things up. Let’s just see what the exact rules are before, you know, booking that family vacation to France!