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TRAVELLING TO FRANCE

American tourists could be barred from Europe when borders reopen

American travellers look set to be denied entry to the EU when the bloc reopens its borders on July 1st, according to reports. While those from Australia and New Zealand will likely to be allowed to return.

American tourists could be barred from Europe when borders reopen
AFP

Europe will reopen its external borders on July 1st but American tourists may not be allowed to travel because the US is still considered a risk due to the high number of Covid-19 cases.

Hard-hit countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Russia and India are also facing a continued travel ban.

EU officials are reportedly frantically drawing up a list of countries whose nationals will be allowed to travel to the EU, when borders reopen on July 1st as well as a list of countries where restrictions will remain in place.

While the final lists have not been published or even set in stone, the New York Times reports that it has seen two draft versions with the US placed on the banned lists.

However one EU diplomat told Reuters news agency: “There's no list (of countries), just a list of criteria.”

The EU is expected to announce the final lists in the run up to July 1st. The lists will then be reviewed “on a regular basis” and countries can be added or withdrawn depending on how active the virus is.

The EU has stated that countries should only be given the green light if their infection rates are the same or better than the EU average.

If they are considered worse, then people travelling from those countries will not be allowed entry.

According to the New York Times, the average number of new infections in the EU over the last two weeks stands at 16 per 100,000 people, whereas in the US the figure is 107. Brazil's is even higher at 190 and Russia's is 80.

'Restrictions should remain in place for countries worse off than the EU'

The US has reported more than 2.3 million coronavirus cases and 120,000 deaths related to the disease – more than any other country.

However nationals from countries like New Zealand and Australia will almost certainly be allowed to travel to the EU again after July 1st given the low infection rates in those countries and the success they have had in controlling the outbreak.

EU sources have told the media that it would be hard to make a case for allowing Americans to travel to Europe given the difference in the rate of infections.

To make matters worse several US states have seen a surge in new infections and hospital admissions in recent days.

“Restrictions should be lifted first with countries whose epidemiological situation is similar to the EU average and where sufficient capabilities to deal with the virus are in place. Restrictions should remain in place for countries whose situation is worse than in the EU,” read a guidance document from EU Commission published last week.

The Commission advises other data and information also be taken into account when choosing which countries will be allowed to resume travel such the systems in place to prevent the spread of the virus such as testing and tracing. EU decision makers should also look at whether airports will comply with safety guidelines.

The EU should also look at trends of infections and will take the reliability of data into account when deciding whether or not to permit nationals from a certain country.

These are however only proposals from the Commission – the final decisions will ultimately to be made by each member state. 

At least 12 million Americans visit Europe each year

It is likely economic factors will also be taken into account, including the value to the EU economy of American tourists, when drawing up the final versions of the list. 

In 2016, some 12 million Americans travelled to Europe with Italy, France, Germany and Spain among the most popular destinations.

Countries like France and Germany have along with the Commission stressed the need for a “common and coordinated approach” and don't want individual states going it alone.

The Commission has also made it clear the continued restrictions after July 1st wouldn't apply to EU nationals, those from Schengen area countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland) or non-EU nationals and family members who have their main residence in Europe “regardless of whether or not they are returning home”.

“Member States should ensure that those travelling to study are exempted, together with highly skilled non-EU workers if their employment is necessary from an economic perspective and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad,” the EU Commission states.

EU states are set to continue discussing the criteria on Wednesday.

 

Member comments

  1. The USA is a large country and some regions/States have acted responsibly during the pandemic, self-isolating and mandating masks. Just like Italy, there are regions that are not experiencing drastically higher infections from COVID-19. It’s true that several States, generally with Republican leadership that has been following Trump’s direction, that opened too early and are in trouble with their infection rates. However, I think that the USA States’ citizens should be allowed some leeway to travel to Europe. For example, if they are not classic “tourists” but have a place to quarantine for the required period of time. I, for example, have an apartment for which I have a 4 year contract in Italy. I can’t get to it. I understand the lack of respect that has been shown the European nations in the form of Trump and his policy-makers, but there are many other citizens of the USA who have actedd more responsibily. I would hope the EU takes this into consideration. Perhaps requiring a minimum stay with a verified private (not hotel) address where quarantine can be accomplished, along with verified support for groceries, etc. – and then allow for these exceptions. I hope we can once again – in a safer, healthy and mutually considerate way – visit our European neighbors again.

  2. This Australian family was due to travel to Italy next Friday to visit our Italian family, but even if Italy allows this it won’t happen because our borders are closed to all international travel. We are feeling so sad not be there for the Italian summer, but also feeling lucky to live in a part of the world that has stayed relatively safe. Next (Italian) summer, we hope.

  3. Go ahead EU ban Americans, perhaps the Chinese tourist will make up for the billions US tourists spend, and while they are at it, maybe bring another virus to your shores! In 2018 US tourist spent over 5 BILLION US dollars which includes business and personal travel, plus in-country spending.

  4. Sure, Luigi, let’s allow Americans to bring the virus back to Europe with their high numbers instead of the Chinese. Sounds like a good idea. I am an American living in France and I will be glad if they go through with this ban, or at least put restrictions in place for those that have property in Europe as a commenter mentioned above,

  5. As for Mariuccia2019, please get your facts straight! A vast majority of the deaths in the US were in DEMOCRATICALLY controlled states, most of whom ignored the CDC guidelines as reported this week by a CDC representative. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [as well as PA, IL, and others] had forced nursing homes to take in COVID patients. As much as the media and left would like to blame everything on Trump, the reality is there was NO right way to deal with this pandemic.

  6. Of course there was a right way. The Trump administration’s reduction of pandemic response forces at the federal level clearly didn’t help.

    Second wave COVID is on the rise in red states because of premature reopenings and general disregard for the pandemic.

  7. Luigi, the vast majority of the deaths were in blue states because that’s where most of the people live. You get your facts straight. Now, the second wave is in mostly red states because their idiotic Governors will not institute controls, and residents in red states have a self-control of a Tasmanian devil.

  8. We have not been able to visit our 2nd home in the Dordogne since Sept. 2019. The French strikes killed our Dec. trip and then the May trip due to COVID. I can certainly understand the concern for France as cases are up here in the US. However, the US is a very large country and not all areas are having the issues. For those with 2nd homes why not look at where they live in the US for potential exposure and then if in a low area of risk require a 14 day quarantine in their homes in France. We could at least do maintenance on our homes and one of our friends in the village could bring us food and supplies, and wine! Just a thought. Merci

  9. I’m all for banning us (Americans). I hope lots of people are royally pissed out about, and take your anger to the voting booth and get rid of the moron we have for a president and the moron Republican puppet senators!

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ENERGY

How European countries are spending billions on easing energy crisis

European governments are announcing emergency measures on a near-weekly basis to protect households and businesses from the energy crisis stemming from Russia's war in Ukraine.

How European countries are spending billions on easing energy crisis

Hundreds of billions of euros and counting have been shelled out since Russia invaded its pro-EU neighbour in late February.

Governments have gone all out: from capping gas and electricity prices to rescuing struggling energy companies and providing direct aid to households to fill up their cars.

The public spending has continued, even though European Union countries had accumulated mountains of new debt to save their economies during the Covid pandemic in 2020.

But some leaders have taken pride at their use of the public purse to battle this new crisis, which has sent inflation soaring, raised the cost of living and sparked fears of recession.

After announcing €14billion in new measures last week, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi boasted the latest spending put Italy, “among the countries that have spent the most in Europe”.

The Bruegel institute, a Brussels-based think tank that is tracking energy crisis spending by EU governments, ranks Italy as the second-biggest spender in Europe, after Germany.

READ ALSO How EU countries aim to cut energy bills and avoid blackouts this winter

Rome has allocated €59.2billion since September 2021 to shield households and businesses from the rising energy prices, accounting for 3.3 percent of its gross domestic product.

Germany tops the list with €100.2billion, or 2.8 percent of its GDP, as the country was hit hard by its reliance on Russian gas supplies, which have dwindled in suspected retaliation over Western sanctions against Moscow for the war.

On Wednesday, Germany announced the nationalisation of troubled gas giant Uniper.

France, which shielded consumers from gas and electricity price rises early, ranks third with €53.6billion euros allocated so far, representing 2.2 percent of its GDP.

Spending to continue rising
EU countries have now put up €314billion so far since September 2021, according to Bruegel.

“This number is set to increase as energy prices remain elevated,” Simone Tagliapietra, a senior fellow at Bruegel, told AFP.

The energy bills of a typical European family could reach €500 per month early next year, compared to €160 in 2021, according to US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

The measures to help consumers have ranged from a special tax on excess profits in Italy, to the energy price freeze in France, and subsidies public transport in Germany.

But the spending follows a pandemic response that increased public debt, which in the first quarter accounted for 189 percent of Greece’s GDP, 153 percent in Italy, 127 percent in Portugal, 118 percent in Spain and 114 percent in France.

“Initially designed as a temporary response to what was supposed to be a temporary problem, these measures have ballooned and become structural,” Tagliapietra said.

“This is clearly not sustainable from a public finance perspective. It is important that governments make an effort to focus this action on the most vulnerable households and businesses as much as possible.”

Budget reform
The higher spending comes as borrowing costs are rising. The European Central Bank hiked its rate for the first time in more than a decade in July to combat runaway inflation, which has been fuelled by soaring energy prices.

The yield on 10-year French sovereign bonds reached an eight-year high of 2.5 percent on Tuesday, while Germany now pays 1.8 percent interest after boasting a negative rate at the start of the year.

The rate charged to Italy has quadrupled from one percent earlier this year to four percent now, reviving the spectre of the debt crisis that threatened the eurozone a decade ago.

“It is critical to avoid debt crises that could have large destabilising effects and put the EU itself at risk,” the International Monetary Fund warned in a recent blog calling for reforms to budget rules.

The EU has suspended until 2023 rules that limit the public deficit of countries to three percent of GDP and debt to 60 percent.

The European Commission plans to present next month proposals to reform the 27-nation bloc’s budget rules, which have been shattered by the crises.

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