This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Aviation bodies ACI Europe, Airlines for Europe, and the International Air Transport Association have strongly criticized what they regard as the European Union leaders' failure to harmonize Covid-related travel restrictions between member states. On Tuesday, European Affairs ministers from EU states adopted a European Council recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement. But the industry groups said that the move falls “far short” of what the groups consider its mandate: “encouraging a restart of travel through effective coordination and proportionate, predictable, and non-discriminatory measures.”
The three organizations have called for a common pre-departure Covid-19 testing framework to replace quarantines for passengers traveling from high-risk areas. According to a joint statement, the recommendations do not propose to replace quarantines with testing, meaning borders will remain effectively closed.
The groups complained that the recommendation allows for member states to refuse entry to citizens traveling from other member states and fails to harmonize rules applying to cross-border and domestic travel. Furthermore, it conflicts with the principle of a European Commission communication issued on May 13 that areas with equivalent (“sufficiently similar”) epidemiological conditions should lift travel restrictions, they said.
Finally, they complained that the recommendation does not create “a sufficient window of certainty” for travelers, as member states have committed only to publishing information on new measures 24 hours prior to their entry into force, as opposed to the five days the commission had proposed.
“These shortcomings are a political failure,” the groups said in a statement. “The inability of the council to go beyond shallow coordination and establish a truly harmonized and workable framework is now beyond any doubt. Expectations for an effective solution now rest with the European Commission, which has charged EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) and ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) with the development of an EU testing protocol for travel.”