US citizens will soon be able to travel to Europe if they have been fully vaccinated, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyden has confirmed. Although she did not provide a definite timeline of when European Union countries will begin accepting American tourists, von der Leyden hinted it could be as early as summer 2021.
The EC President cited the “huge progress” made in the United States’ COVID-19 vaccine drive as the reason why the non-essential travel ban for US passport holders to visit the EU may be lifted for the first time in more than a year. She stated that the USA is well “on track” to reach its goal of achieving herd immunity by vaccinating up to 70 percent of adult residents by June 2021
She also explained the fact that the United States is using the 3 vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as a key factor in the decision, noting: “ One thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA.”
Von der Leyen confirmed that any American who has been fully vaccinated with either the Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson jabs will be granted “free movement and travel to the European Union”. In this respect, visa requirements for US citizens to travel to Europe could soon return to pre-pandemic normalcy.
US Government Welcomes Lifting of European Travel Ban
The news that a Europe travel ban end date is in sight for US citizens has been warmly welcomed by the government of the United States.
Andy Slavitt, a senior White House COVID-19 advisor, expressed his opinion that the development was “incredible”. “While they know we’re not done yet, they’re saying those Americans are safe to come to our country without risk of spreading Covid-19”, he said.
Slavitt stated that there was “no question” that the decision was due to the success of the US vaccine program. “Just a few months ago, we were the nation in the world that was one of the most cut off from travel. That just shows what an incredible few months we’ve had vaccinating Americans”, he explained.
He also expressed his belief that the move will only lead to more freedom for US citizens who have been vaccinated, stating “I think you’re going to see increasing steps over the next few weeks on what vaccinated Americans can do, in addition to just travel”.
Will an EU Vaccination Certificate Be Required for American Travelers?
While the European Commission has confirmed that vaccinated American citizens will soon be able to travel to and enter EU countries, the documentation they will need to do so is less clear at the moment.
The European Parliament is currently set to vote on the implementation of an EU digital green certificate that would facilitate travel between European member states for vaccinated citizens, those who have recovered from coronavirus in the previous months, or those who have recently tested negative for COVID-19.
Nevertheless, discussions are still ongoing between officials of the United States and the European Union on how to make vaccine certificates from each jurisdiction broadly readable in practical and technological terms. EU officials have suggested that a first step could involve issuing an EU vaccine certificate to Americans with certified US proof of vaccination upon arrival in Europe.
However, it is hoped that vaccine certificates issued by foreign governments will soon be accepted and readable in the European Union. This would render the need for multiple vaccination documents unnecessary, and further speed up the reopening of European borders for American tourists by Summer 2021.