NEWS

Travel from third countries in the spotlight

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Greece disagrees with the European Commission proposal that the epidemiological data and vaccination status of each country should be criteria for the approval of travel from third countries to European Union member-states and vice versa.

More specifically, Greece is proposing criteria based on individual travelers’ profiles (vaccination, negative diagnostic test or recent recovery from illness) and deems the Commission’s approach, which is based on the epidemiological picture of countries, outdated and economically catastrophic.

The Greek approach favors extending the logic of the Digital Green Certificate to third countries, with the appropriate technical consultations to ensure the authenticity of data and interoperability with the European systems. This will allow travelers from third countries to travel to the EU as long as they have proof of vaccination, a negative diagnostic test or have recently recovered from Covid-19 (the latter criterion will be at the discretion of each member-state).

This approach is also supported by the parliamentary group chairman of the European People’s Party, Manfred Weber who said that non-hazardous travelers should not be subject to restrictions – regardless of whether they come from the EU or elsewhere.

The EU has banned non-vital travel from third countries with the exception of those included in a “white list” which is renewed every two weeks. This list currently contains only seven countries.

In a non-paper issued on April 17, the Commission proposed, among other things, to maintain this approach and to include countries where vaccination progress has led to a significant reduction in the spread of the virus in the white list.

It also proposed setting additional criteria for vaccination thresholds for the populations of third countries, as well as the possibility of an “emergency brake” in case of dangerous new variants of the virus or new outbreaks of the epidemic. It refers to the possibility of combining the white list with the approach based on the individual health data of each traveler.

Greece’s recent decision to open travel to and from certain third countries that are leading the international vaccination race has caused friction with the Commission, which insists on a coordinated opening to the rest of the world.