Council Updates Recommendations for Entry of Third Country Nationals into EU/Schengen Area

The European Council has updated its requirements for entry of third country citizens into the EU, according to an announcement published by the Council.

According to the announcement, if Member States accept proof of vaccination, they should lift travel restrictions such as travel bans, quarantine, and Covid-19 testing upon arrival. The condition is that the traveler received the last recommended dose of a European Medicines Agency (EMA) or World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccine at least 14 days prior to arrival.

This action is contingent on Member States actually accepting the notion and moving forward with it, which is something that most have not yet done.

“If member states accept proof of vaccination to waive travel restrictions such as testing or quarantine, they should in principle lift restrictions on non-essential travel for third-country travellers who have received the last recommended dose of an EMA approved vaccine at least 14 days before arrival. Member states could also lift the restriction on non-essential travel to those who have received at least 14 days before the last recommended dose of a vaccine having completed the WHO emergency use listing process,” the announcement reads.

The Council is also recommending that Member States take into account reciprocity of third countries, which would allow EU and Schengen citizens to enter the third country as well as allowing the third country nationals to enter the EU and Schengen Area.

In addition, the Council is recommending that Member States figure out how to accept certificates of proof of vaccination from third countries until the EU’s Digital Green Certificate or an equivalent is completed and ready for use.

According to the announcement, the threshold of new Covid-19 infections per 100,000 residents has been raised from 25 to 75. In addition, the third country’s progress in having the population vaccinated and new variants of Covid-19 should be taken into account.

Other existing criteria will still apply, such as a declining trend of Covid-19 infections, the number of tests performed, a 4% positivity rate of all tests carried out, the country’s overall response to Covid-19, and the country’s reliability of information.

Finally, the Council’s announcement highlights an ‘emergency brake’ mechanism to allow the EU and/or Member States to cut off travel from a specific third country, should the epidemiological situation in that country quickly worsen. The emergency brake’s specific focus will be on new variants of Covid-19 developing in third countries, and will not apply to EU nationals.

“Where the epidemiological situation of a third country or region worsens quickly, in particular if a variant of concern or of interest has been detected, member states should adopt an urgent, temporary restriction on all travel into the EU. This emergency brake should not apply to EU citizens, long-term EU residents and certain categories of essential travellers, who should nevertheless be subject to appropriate testing and quarantine measures, even if fully vaccinated,” the announcement reads.

The Council is expected to make more announcements regarding the entry of third country nationals into the EU and Schengen Area in the near future.

To read the Council’s announcement, click this link.

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