European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen admitted this past weekend there was a growing interest in welcoming tourists from the United States.
She made those statements in a newspaper interview carried by The New York Times, in which she made it clear that Europe would welcome with open arms all those American tourists who have completed their vaccination schedule. ”Americans, from what I can see, use vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Von der Leyen said. This will allow free movement and travel to the European Union, she added.
The Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, which was rejected Monday by Brazil's health authorities, is not among the immunizers approved by EMA, but it is still under study. And no Chinese vaccine is among those currently accepted. This currently excludes Sputnik V or the Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm, which are the most commonly used vaccines for inoculation in countries such as Argentina, Uruguay or Brazil.
One thing is clear: the 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines approved by EMA, Von der Leyen went on, although she fell short of explaining how controls will be implemented.
The resumption of travel will depend on the epidemiological situation, but the situation is improving in the United States, and it is also improving in the European Union, she admitted.
One of the technical issues to be resolved is focused on the type of health passport that will allow validating that the passenger seeking to enter the EU has completed the vaccination scheme for it. In any case, the Commission is debating with the United States about a digital vaccination pass, that is, the document that should make it possible to restore free movement, and not only within the European Union.
The document in question will add information about vaccines, negative tests or cures for Covid-19, thanks to which citizens will be free to move. The European green pass” is in the approval phase, and this week the European Parliament to expected to decide on the matter.
But Von der Leyen warned each member state could impose additional restrictive measures if the epidemiological situation warrants it. Among the countries that most advocated a restoration of tourist trips from the United States are Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Greece and Italy, which receive millions of North American tourists per year and in which tourism represents a significant percentage of their GDP.