As the world begins to breathe out and open up after the worldwide Covid19 lockdowns, the question of non-essential travel has come up in political spheres. Each country is wondering what to do. Who do we let in? Do we let anyone in at all? And I'm sure, dear reader, that this has you in a tailspin if you're intending to get married abroad.
The most high profile of these travel restrictions has been the ominous "EU US Travel ban" which seemingly tells American couples that they are not welcome in the European Union with no end in sight to this ban. Well… at least that's what the new outlets would have you believe. It's actually far more nuanced than that and far less scary.
Today we cover the 5 things you need to understand about the EU US Travel ban and what you can do about it.
1. Each European country has control of its own borders
It makes me cringe whenever the European Commission releases a statement and this is taken as a blanket policy for all 27 EU member states, when this is not actually how the EU operates. The European Union is a collection of countries with vastly different cultures, languages, peoples, governments and yes, border controls. The European Commission's role is not a dictatorship over all of these countries. In the case of border control, it's more like an advisory board. Each European country has control over who they let in and who they don't let in.
2. The European Commission's travel restrictions are recommendations
When the headlines so boldly say that "The EU bans entry from the US" what they really mean to say is "the EU Commission recommends entry from these 15 countries. The US is not on that list". Doesn't sound quite as sexy does it but that's the truth.
The European Commission has issued a recommendation to its member states to reopen borders to a select few countries from the beginning of July, but as stated in the previous point, the EU countries (member states) themselves have zero obligation to comply. What they do with their borders is up to tham. So, for example, Portugal has open borders to Brazil which is against EU guidelines, but since Brazil and Portugal are intimately connected, Portugal saw that connection as more important than what the EU Commission may tell them.
This is why it's super important for you to look at the policies of the European country that you intend to travel to, and not the "EU" as a whole. The countries are doing their own thing - remember that!
Here is the letter to see for yourself: https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-9208-2020-INIT/en/pdf
Photo by Piteira Photography
3. The US is not being singled out
The juicy headlines make it seem like the EU has a thing against Americans and their government but that's not what is actually happening here. Granted, everything is political and it would be naive to think that the governance of the US has no part to play in the European Commission's recommendations (which we will get onto later) but by and large, this is a health issue.
The European Commission has taken its time to monitor and collect data on how all of the countries across the globe have handled the Covid19 pandemic. If they think that the numbers are out of control or that the policies are not in line with the EU's standards, they have omitted them from the recommended list for non-essential travel.
The list currently has only 15 countries: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China (although China is subject to confirmation of reciprocity).
Of course there are way more countries in the world than 15! Other notable misses here are Brazil, China, any of the Caribbean, most of Africa etc etc. The US is making headlines because in some ways it is the most notable miss.
4. This will not last forever
Now as we have said many times in this article, the EU countries can make their own decisions, butu say they did all comply with the recommendation. The Commission has pledged to review the recommendation every two weeks following their system of means testing and continuing observation of the global pandemic response. The EU countries themselves can open or close their borders to anyone within that time, even between revisions.
I have seen some weird fake news stuff saying that this ban will go on until 2021 or even beyond. The truth is we just don't know, but given the frequency of the revisions to this recommendations list, it is unlikely to go on for more than a couple of months. Just keep an eye on the specific country to aim to travel to. Hopefully it doesn't interfere with your wedding plans too much!
Photo by Adelson Cadete
5. There is almost nothing you can do
This is probably not what you want to hear. I know how powerless you must feel in all of this as we are very much at the mercy of lawmakers and politicians during this time. But with that said, there is one thing we can do. VOTE.
I don't care to discuss American politics here and debate the presidential or local elections. You vote for whoever you think is right. Just know that the policies made by your government to counter the Coronavirus outbreak is an important indicator to the rest of the globe as to whether it is safe to allow Americans to travel or not.
In a world where we are powerless against a devilish microbe, you have the power to vote.