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TRAVEL TO EUROPE

Vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to Europe this summer, says EU chief

Americans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to visit the EU this summer, president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has vowed.

Vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to Europe this summer, says EU chief
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: John Thys/AFP

“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” von der Leyen told The New York Times.

“This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.

“Because one thing is clear: the 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines approved by the EMA”, Von der Leyen said.

US health authorities have recommended the Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, all of which are also authorised for use in the EU.

The president of the EU Commission did not spell out a timeline on when exactly US tourists would be able to visit EU countries or what documentation they would need, however the European Parliament is debating vaccine passports on Wednesday, April 28th.
 
The European Union halted all non-essential travel to the bloc in March 2020 to limit the spread of coronavirus.
 
While border policy is a matter for individual member states, the EU has adopted some rules across the bloc particularly around travel from outside Europe.
 
Last month the head of the European Commission vaccines task force, Thierry Breton, unveiled the first European “health passport”, claiming he hopes Europe will have a summer season “comparable to last year”. 
 
The provisional plans for the health passport include an option to show either a vaccination certificate or a recent Covid test.
 
 
The new health certificate should be available “within two to three months” in both digital and paper formats.
 
Americans who are frequent visitors to European countries have been eagerly awaiting news that governments will relax travel restrictions, but with a third wave of Covid-19 infections hitting much of Europe their hopes have been dashed.
 
The EU’s initially slow vaccine rollout has also hampered the chances that borders would soon reopen to non-essential travel from outside the bloc.
 
And for the time being at least Americans have been advised not to travel to Europe, even if they are vaccinated.
 
Last week the US government increased its travel warning for most EU countries to “Level 4 – Do Not Travel”, citing “very high” Covid-19 numbers.
 
The warning does not bar Americans from travel to these countries, however the Department of State warns that insurance policies may not be valid.
 
What is “essential” travel?

The EU does not define what counts as an “imperative reason”, however people who can travel into the European bloc now include:

  • Citizens of an EU country
  • Non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home
  • Healthcare workers engaged in crucial work on the coronavirus crisis
  • Frontier workers and in some circumstances seasonal workers
  • Delivery drivers
  • Diplomats, humanitarian or aid workers
  • Passengers in transit
  • Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons
  • Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons
  • Third country nationals travelling for the purpose of study
  • Highly qualified third-country workers IF their employment is essential from an economic perspective and cannot be postponed or performed abroad

Find more details on the exemptions here.

 
 
 

Member comments

  1. I’m an American hoping to take a long-awaited trip to Geneva/Lausanne and London, in August. For those familiar with how such things tend to go, is it reasonable to expect that Switzerland and the UK will follow in the EU’s footsteps and open up to fully-vaccinated tourists from the United States over the Summer?

    Thanks in advance for any input.

    1. I’m British living in Italy and think it’s very likely that the UK will open up to American tourists by August. I have my fingers crossed for you!

  2. I have owned a house in Italy for 20 years, but I am not a resident. i am a retired British resident but have been used to spending at least 5 months a year in Italy at a time of my choosing. My house has been used for tourism being let for holidays in the past. Can I apply for a visa extension to allow me visits of any duration?
    I do not work in Italy, or have family residents in Italy, and I am too old to be a student. I contribute all local taxes in my commune and i contribute to the local economy. Can I apply for a long stay visa simply as a home owner?
    I would appreciate any information. Thank you.
    Sally
    ?

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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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