European Mess

It was almost beautiful. Europeans were in agreement on the health pass, with vaccination campaigns progressing at a good pace, and everything was in place to start the summer vacations with a little peace of mind.

But the European Union was not to be outdone, and in the home stretch it came up with yet another episode in a field in which it is keen to prove that it holds a certificate of excellence: administrative complication.

Illegible rules

And yet, it was easy to define common conditions of circulation and entry to the territories. Well, no. Sanitary pass or not, depending on where you’re going and where you’re going, you won’t be subject to the same obligations and constraints, even within the Schengen area.

To enter France, a PCR test or proof of vaccination will suffice if you are coming from a Schengen country. But vaccine or not, you’ll need a test from the USA or the UK.

To get into Germany it’s almost the same. Almost, because for some countries it depends on where you’re coming from. For example, if you’re arriving from Portugal, if you’re coming from the Azores or Madeira, everything’s fine, but if you’re coming from the rest of the country, you’ll need to pass a test or even a quarantine to enter Germany. But these same Portuguese will go to France or Spain without the slightest problem.

For the time being, vaccinated or not, Europeans will need a PCR test to enter Italy. On the other hand, there’s no longer any need for quarantine, at least for the French.

A compulsory test is also required for those wishing to travel to Portugal, vaccinated or not.

As for Greece, it welcomes the vaccinated with open arms and no other restrictions.

As for travelers from the USA, in addition to vaccination, they will have to present a PCR test to enter France, whereas vaccination alone will allow them to go to Spain.

But once in Spain, this American traveller will really be able to go to France without any problem, just like the Portuguese who arrived in Paris will be able to go to Germany, right?

Unless, in addition to sorting according to destination, airports also sort according to nationality or countries recently visited?

What is the European Green Pass really for?

And for good measure, if the health pass that was to be the key to frictionless travel in Europe has indeed been adopted by the European authorities, only 7 countries have joined the platform to date : Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland.

Worse. As we all know, the pass is only one proof of a person’s health status, and then it all depends on the rules applied according to that status. Europe was calling for armonized rules, including the general abolition of tests and quarantines for vaccinated people, but you can see from the above that this is not the case.

Even worse: many countries, such as Germany and Spain, also impose their own platform for pre-declaring travel to these countries.

We might even have wondered why we’d gone to all this trouble when there’s a secure system open to everyone that lets you do exactly the same thing as the European Green Pass: the IATA Travel Pass. Why not just make it widely available? Perhaps, once again, the desire to make life more complicated?

The traveler in the dark

To recap, here’s the situation for the European traveller at the moment.

Within the Schengen area, he will have to use the Green Pass, which has been adopted by Europe but not yet in his own country.

He’ll need to check the conditions of entry into his destination country, and then of return from that country to his own (unless he decides to transit through third countries in order to lift certain bans). These conditions often do not follow EU recommendations, vary from country to country, and do not include any form of reciprocity, even within the Schengen area.

In addition to the Green Pass, you may also need to fill in specific forms online, depending on the country.

He will also have to provide proof of testing and vaccination to the airline he is traveling with. Each airline uses a different platform (AOK Pass, IATA Travel Pass) which does not communicate with the Green Pass or with national “Tous Anti COVID” applications (or rather, it’s all AntiCOVID that doesn’t communicate with them). Depending on the country of destination, local authorities may be able to take into account only data from one platform and not another.

In the end, he’ll be wondering what he really needs the vaccination for…

Given the total lack of legibility of these measures, which change almost weekly, it is obvious that the traveler will adopt a wait-and-see attitude that will not help the industry’s professionals.for whom the season starts in a few weeks’ time and who are thinking that July is almost already lost!

Once again, despite its determination to come up with common rules to facilitate the resumption of travel at least within its borders, Europe has once again demonstrated its inability to agree on simple, pragmatic matters.

And as far as I’m concerned, I’ll be spending my vacations in Paris for the second year in a row, as this procrastination is beginning to tire me more than the crisis itself.

Image : european union by symbiot via Shuttertock

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrin
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.

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