The Council of the European Union approved yesterday (13) a new recommendation on travel restrictions between member states and kept unchanged the limitations imposed on travelers outside the bloc, which includes a ban on the entry of Brazilians living in Brazil. The decision comes at a difficult time, when some European countries are experiencing a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with a significant increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 and the implementation of new restrictions on the functioning of commerce, bars, restaurants and attractions tourist.
Aviation entities protest
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), together with aviation bodies ACI Europe and Airlines for Europe (A4E), said they have been pushing hard for a testing framework for Covid-19 before flights as an instrument to replace restrictions or quarantines imposed on passengers traveling from high-risk areas. The objective is to establish freedom of movement in Europe and the resumption of tourism, preserving jobs and businesses.
The associations claim that there is a lack of coordination between the countries of the European Union that can hamper the recovery of travel and tourism, putting millions of jobs associated with the sector at risk.
According to the entities, the text approved by the Council of the European Union disregarded the main proposals of the sector, since, according to the entities:
- It does not propose replacing quarantines through testing, which effectively means that borders remain closed;
- Allows countries to refuse entry to citizens traveling to other members of the bloc;
- It does not harmonize the rules applicable to national and international travel;
- It creates conflicts with the Commission’s previous determination, where travel restrictions should be removed between areas that have equivalent epidemiological situations (“sufficiently similar”);
- It ignores the opinion of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) that travel restrictions and quarantines are of “questionable effectiveness” when transmission in the community is underway, which is currently the case in most of Europe;
- It does not create a sufficient window of certainty for travelers, as Member States have only undertaken to publish information on the new measures 24 hours before its entry into force, as opposed to the five days that the Commission had proposed.
IATA classified the episode as “a political failure”, and attacked: “The Commission’s inability to go beyond superficial coordination and establish a truly harmonized and workable structure is now beyond doubt,” he said in a statement.
What the European Commission proposes
The Council said it plans to establish common criteria on travel restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The recommendation aims to help the bloc’s countries to make decisions based on the epidemiological situation region by region.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will release weekly a common color-coded map divided by region with data provided by member states, containing:
- number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days
- number of tests per 100,000 inhabitants performed in the last week (test rate)
- percentage of positive tests performed in the last week (test positivity rate)
Countries should provide clear, comprehensive and timely information to the public about any new travel restrictions or requirements at least 24 hours before the measures take effect. The information will also be available on the Re-open EU website.
There is still hope
The expectations for an effective solution are now with the European Commission, which has instructed EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) and ECDC (European Center for Disease Prevention and Control) to develop a European Union Test Protocol for Travels. But there is no set deadline for this work to be completed, nor even a guarantee that this protocol will be approved.
Check out our forecast of when Brazilians will be able to travel to Europe without restrictions again.
Check the IATA statement and the text approved by the European Commission (both available in English only).