European Union: Council of the EU Updates Travel Restrictions Related to Increases in COVID-19 Cases in US and Elsewhere
On September 9, 2021, the Council of the European Union (Council) announced new restrictions on travel for residents from certain countries into the European Union (EU). The Council of the EU began making recommendations related to travel restrictions on nonessential travel into the EU on June 30, 2020. ( Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/912 .) Since then, the Council Recommendation has been updated 14 times, including on May 20, 2021 , August 30, 2021 , and September 9, 2021 . The updates in August and September saw the removal of 11 countries, including the United States, from the list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted. In other words, the EU has determined that the COVID-19 situation in the United States has become so dire that it is restricting nonessential travel to the EU. In general, the EU restrictions classify travelers in three categories: first, vaccinated persons; second, essential travelers; and third, nonessential travelers from outside the EU that travel from countries on the recommended list. The Council considers persons as vaccinated when they have received their last recommended dose at least 14 days before their arrival. Essential travelers consist of EU citizens, long-term residents, and travelers with an essential function or need. Nonessential travelers are those from outside the EU who do not meet the other criteria. Along with the classification of travelers, the Council has also published its methodology to measure COVID-19 conditions around the world using four different color-coded categories. The Council uses a combination of the color-coded conditions and other criteria to make up the framework for travel restrictions, and updates the map of travel restrictions weekly . Initially, the Council Recommendation from June 30, 2020 , provided the framework for the removal of travel restrictions. The Council Recommendation from May 20, 2021 , updated the criteria for the removal of restrictions. Of note are loosened restrictions related to vaccination status as it relates to active cases. Currently, the recommendation is to lift restrictions so long as COVID-19 cases remain under 75 per 100,000. The Recommendation requires the Council to reevaluate the status of countries on the accepted list every two weeks. The Council Recommendation from August 30, 2021, included the removal of the United States from the list. ( Council Recommendation (EU) 2021/1346 .) The most recent update, September 9, 2021, included the removal of six more countries and the addition of a new one. ( Council Recommendation (EU) 2021/1459 .) The Council of the EU will continue to monitor the global COVID-19 situation and provide recommendations to member states to establish a safe and coordinated reopening to non-EU visitors. The Council of the European Union is the co-legislator in the EU together with the European Parliament. ( Treaty on European Union art. 16. ) The Council can adopt binding regulations, directives, and decisions, as well as nonbinding recommendations and opinions. ( Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) art. 288 .) Article 292 of the TFEU enables the Council to adopt recommendations on a proposal from the European Commission without the involvement of the European Parliament. Along with the travel restrictions, the Council was also responsible for the coordination and introduction of the EU digital COVID certificate , which allows for safe travel among EU countries.