European Council Recommends Lifting Travel Restrictions for 11 New Third Countries

European Council speakers

The European Council has updated its list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted, according to an announcement published by the Council.

According to the announcement, several countries have been added to their list. These include:

  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Canada
  • Jordan
  • Montenegro
  • Qatar
  • Republic of Moldova
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kosovo, though not recognized as a sovereign state by all Member States

Countries that were already listed and remain on it include:

  • Albania
  • Australia
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Lebanon
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of North Macedonia
  • Rwanda
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • United States
  • China, which is subject to reciprocity.
  • Hong Kong
  • Macao
  • Taiwan

Recommendations made by the Council are not legally binding for Member States to follow. As the Council updates its list every two weeks, more countries are expected to be added in the future.

The Council’s recommendations, however, have thus far not led to coordinated lifting of travel restrictions, as Member States often make their own determinations despite the Council’s constant calling for coordination.

“A Member State should not decide to lift the travel restrictions for non-listed third countries before this has been decided in a coordinated manner,” the announcement reads.

The EU Digital Covid Certificate could ease some of this confusion, depending on how it is used in process of traveling into Europe from third countries or other Member States.

The Council has been making recommendations for the lifting of travel restrictions since 30 June 2020, marking more than one year of continuous updates of recommendations.

On 20 May 2021, the Council adopted an amending recommendation to respond to ongoing vaccination campaigns by introducing certain waivers for vaccinated travelers, and to keep watch for new variants of Covid-19. This amendment also included an emergency break mechanism to quickly reverse a decision to east travel restrictions.

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

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