According to airline executives, the European Commission is committed to resuming international travel within the EU from 1st July.
However, European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders warned an Airlines for Europe (A4E) virtual summit that a full restart between Europe and the United States could take longer.
According to Reynders: “We’re trying to implement a lifting of restrictions for July 1. We have agreed a document, the Digital Covid Certificate, and it will be recognized in every member state. It will become binding from July.
“We’re sure that for the first time during the pandemic we will provide the means for airlines to come back. For the first time, we are going in the right direction. We are equipped now to have the first good season.”
“I am quite sure,” Reynders said when asked if he was confident the certification program would function this summer.
At a meeting of major European airlines, he said: “We make recommendations to member states on how to lift restrictions and we have discussions now not to have additional restrictions for those who are vaccinated.”
Travel to and from the UK was not mentioned by Reynders, although reciprocal recognition of the UK NHS vaccination certificate and the EU Digital Covid Certificate by the EU is envisaged.
Because the US government has no intentions to develop a national Covid certificate but has sanctioned international travel for people fully vaccinated, discussions on resuming travel to the US focus on the identification of vaccinated travelers.
According to Reynders: “We start to discuss with the US but until now it does not seem there is a plan for a Federal certificate, so we have to agree how to do it.
“It’s possible it will be possible to travel from the US to the EU with proof of vaccination. We are in discussions to see if it will be possible to go the other way to the US.”
He mentioned that a 15th June EU-US conference could help things move forward, saying, “The intention is to start again.” The summit’s most likely conclusion, according to Reynders, will be “presenting that intention.”
Prior to the G7 summit in the UK this week, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to form a task force to look at how to revive US-UK travel.
When asked about the absence of EU coordination during the crisis, Reynders responded: “We are sure it will be better now than at the start of the pandemic.
“The certificate is no more a recommendation, it is binding. Member states agreed to use it. Now we have a binding instrument.
“We want to avoid fragmentation. For example, do you need a negative test 48 hours before travel or 72 hours before? It must be possible to agree.
“It’s easier to coordinate, to work together when lifting restrictions than when adding restrictions.”
Willie Walsh, IATA Director-General said: “I would have expected Europe to do better and to coordinate better.
“We’ve seen so many different decisions with no real evidence they are based on health risks and much more evidence that they are based on political risk.”
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