Skift Take

The American vaccination program has been so successful that the unthinkable even a few months ago has happened. So much for competence.

Finally some relief for the much maligned American tourist after a year of being the bane of the world: vaccinated Americans will be allowed into European Union countries starting this summer, according to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, in an interview with The New York Times.

“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” she said in this interview. “This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.

“Because one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A.”

No word yet on when this would happen or how, or if this would involve any officially sanctioned — and controversial — vaccine passports, but as has been the rule over this pandemic, so many of these decision are done on the fly and operational execution is figured out later, only to have things change with virus surges.

The biggest hurdle will definitely be figuring out vaccine passports, on which Americans don’t have much agreement on and unlikely to change anytime soon with the politicized nature of that decision in U.S.

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Even so, this announcement comes as a huge boost to EU as it has been stumbling or slow in its now rollout of vaccines throughout this year. Countries like Greece have been opening up to all vaccinated tourists on their own. This will give some EU-wide coordinated impetus to the beleaguered travel sector in Europe.

The EU will recommend the change in travel policy to its 26 member countries, but individual member states may reserve the right to keep stricter limits, according to The Times. It is very likely Mediterranean countries that depend hugely on tourism, such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Croatia will be fully open to vaccinated American tourists following this announcement.

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With this will come a scramble for U.S. airlines to restart flights and routes to Europe tat it cut back on during the last year.

More to come.

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Tags: european commission, european union, tourism, vaccines

Photo credit: The European union and its constellation countries will soon allow vaccinated Americans to travel to the continent for the peak summer season. unipavia / Flickr

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