April 27, 2021 -- U.S. tourists who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to visit countries in the European Union this summer.
The European Commission, which is the executive branch of the bloc, will recommend a switch in policy after more than a year of restricting nonessential travel to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” Ursula von der Leyen, the commission’s president, told The New York Times during an interview on Sunday.
The agency, which regulates drugs for the European Union, has approved the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which are the three vaccines authorized for use in the United States.
“This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union,” she said. “All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA.”
The timeline and details aren’t yet set, the newspaper reported. Von der Leyen said the policy change will depend on the “epidemiological situation, but the situation is improving in the United States, as it is, hopefully, also improving in the European Union.” She added that the U.S. is “on track” to reaching 70% vaccination of adults by mid-June.
Several popular tourist-destination countries in Europe, particularly Greece, have argued that travel should resume as vaccination campaigns in the U.S., U.K. and other countries improve. Officials in the U.S. and European Union have held discussions about ways to coordinate safe travel and show vaccine proof to allow for restriction-free travel across borders.
The first step could be a low-tech solution, the newspaper reported. Tourists may be able to show vaccine proof from their home country and then receive a vaccine certificate from the European Union to travel, for instance.
The European Union will soon begin issuing “digital green certificates” to Europeans to travel across the 27 countries this summer. The certificates will show whether a traveler has received a COVID-19 vaccine, recovered from the disease in recent months, or tested negative for the coronavirus in recent days.
Individual countries may institute stricter limits such as quarantines, the newspaper reported, even if tourists have a vaccine certificate. Countries such as Greece, Croatia, Italy, Spain and Portugal are ready to reopen to U.S. tourists when the European Union issues the new guidelines.