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American tourists are on their way to being welcomed back to the European Union.
On Wednesday, during a meeting of permanent representatives in Brussels, the EU agreed to add the U.S. to a list of countries for which the bloc should gradually remove restrictions on non-essential travel.
The EU also added North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Lebanon and Taiwan to the list and removed a reciprocity clause for special administrative regions of China, Macau and Hong Kong.
Those recommendations are expected to be formalized on Friday.
However, the recommendations are non-binding. National governments will be able to set their own entry conditions, including requiring visitors to provide test results or vaccination records.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen shows her EU Digital Covid Certificate as she gives a press statement on the new COVID-19 digital travel certificate at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday. (Johanna Geron/Pool Photo via AP)
Though the EU does not have a unified tourism or border policy related to the coronavirus, the bloc has been working on a joint digital travel certificate that was approved by EU lawmakers last week.
The free travel certificate — which will contain a QR code with advanced security features — is for people who are vaccinated, newly tested or recently recovered from COVID-19, allowing them to travel between European countries without quarantining or extra testing.
Belgium, Spain, Germany, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Poland have already started using the system, while the remaining EU countries are expected to start using it next month.
The certificates are intended for EU citizens, but Americans and travelers from other countries will be able to get access to them if they can get approval from the authorities of the EU country they are entering.
However, the U.S.’s lack of official vaccination certification system may complicate tourists’ abilities to get access to the EU’s certificate.
“Let’s look at science and let’s look at the progress. Let’s look at the numbers and when it’s safe, we will do it,” De Croo said. “The moment that we see that a big part of the population is double-vaccinated and can prove that they are safe, travel will pick up again. And I would expect that over the course of this summer.”
The EU’s list of countries is updated by the European Council based on epidemiological data that is reviewed every two weeks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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