Summer holiday boost as UK and EU set to open talks on Covid passports next week
Greece ‘confident’ of being on green travel list says expert
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Plans are being drawn up in Whitehall and Brussels for coronavirus certificates that can be used to enter any European country without the need for testing and quarantine. Sources say official talks are expected to begin as early as next week. It is hoped a deal can be concluded for May 17, when the Government drops its international travel ban.
A Government spokesman said: “Ensuring free and open travel with our European partners is vitally important.
“Which is why we will be engaging the EU Commission on reopening travel routes from the UK shortly.”
British officials will tomorrow begin work hammering out proposals for a potential UK-EU travel corridor for lockdown-weary Britons.
Similar plans are being drawn up in Brussels with EU officials keen to drop their blanket ban on UK travellers ahead of the summer.
A European Commission spokesman confirmed a willingness to broker a travel deal with Downing Street to give the bloc’s pandemic-stricken tourism industry a welcome boost.
“We would be open towards the UK on this issue,” they said.
Under the plans, Covid passports issued in the UK would be recognised by all European countries.
The certificates will carry details of either full vaccination, evidence of antibodies or a recent negative test result.
No10 wants to introduce the documents in time for the next stage of the exit from lockdown in mid-May.
And Brussels expects to have its system up and running by the end of June.
In a secret plan circulated to member states, eurocrats proposed lifting a ban on British travellers because of the UK’s speedy vaccine rollout.
The memo, seen by Express.co.uk, says: “Preliminary scientific evidence and growing empirical data support developing a revised approach for the safe lifting of restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU.”
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The Commission proposal is aimed opening travel routes with countries that have successful jabs programmes, including the UK, United States and Israel.
But it also raises up the possibility for member states to unilaterally scrap EU-mandated travel bans in order to boost their economies.
Diplomats could decide as early as next week on whether to lift the ban on British tourists entering the EU.
Some insiders are more cautious, with one saying: “We expect Commission to come up with a draft amendment for the existing regulation. But this would take a while to discuss.”
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Greece has already announced plans to welcome Britons with proof they have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine if the Brussels-led system is not ready in time.
And Transport Secretary Grant Schapps will hold talks with Germany, France and Italy at the G7 summit in Cornwall on June 11 over possible “travel corridors”.
Portugal and Malta are expected to be the only European counties included on the initial green list when it is launched next month.
But others could be quickly added as the EU’s vaccination campaign is finally starting to ramp up after months of dithering.
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