Brexit revenge: EU blocks opening up to UK tourists

Michael Gove discusses changes to EU travel after Brexit

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So UK families going to the Continent may still have to enter quarantine on arrival. The delay was attacked by travel bosses and politicians who warned it may further hinder any economic recovery for firms and communities that are dependant on mass tourism recovery for firms and communities that are dependant on mass tourism. Plans for EU chiefs to discuss allowing in UK travellers without restrictions have now been shelved, possibly until September after politicians return from their six-week summer break.

The setback came after No10 said that double-jabbed European and US visitors will no longer have to quarantine for 10 days upon reaching the UK.

Sources indicated that the EU is not expected to reciprocate immediately, blaming the UK for standing firm against Brussels over post-Brexit trade checks in Northern Ireland as one reason.

One diplomat told the Daily Express: “Given Lord Frost’s acting so far, EU member states are very mistrusting of British moves…on a decision whether to grant British tourists access to the European travel area. Out of spite and frustration with Frost, the EU is holding off.”

Another insider said parts of the EU needed a post-pandemic boost from the spending of British tourists and urged bloc leaders: “Make money, not war.”

The stand-off leaves a cloud of uncertainty over the plans of families who have been hoping for a European getaway since some UK lockdown measures were eased.

Meanwhile ministers are in talks with the European Union about a deal to recognise the NHS app as part of Brussels’ digital green pass for restarting international travel.

They are said to be closing in on an agreement but have yet to finalise it, so there is still uncertainty about where will be happy to accept the app.

Even with an EU-UK deal to recognise the other’s Covid travel certificates, the bloc’s 27 nations would still have to make a final decision on whether those fully vaccinated Britons will be allowed in without restrictions. Diplomats and officials have kept off including the UK on a safe list for non-essential travel due to fears over the Delta variant of the virus.

European capitals usually review restrictions every two weeks but summer holidays mean the next evaluation may be in September.

Insiders blame the delay for holding back economic recovery.

One source said: “There’s really no reason not to reciprocate for vaccinated Britons in view of the current positivity and R rate.”

They added the recovery “has a lot riding on tourism and this should be the boost so desperately needed after a lost year.

“As long as it happens responsibly: Make money, not war.”

Without that agreement, Britons may have to isolate on arrival in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and also in mainland Portugal.

Industry leaders called on the EU to relax its ban and let Britons travel without curbs. Solene Flahault, of the European Regions Airline Association, said: “We regret the different rules across different member states. The impact is really awful on travellers.

“Airlines have done their best to ensure the safest conditions for travellers this summer – it is key for many airlines; finances are really hard.”

A spokesman for the World Travel & Tourism Council added: “Travel is all about opening doors, but if the EU closes its to British holidaymakers – even if they’re fully vaccinated – it’s going to deal a body blow to the already struggling travel and tourism sector.

“We need the EU and indeed the US to show reciprocity and enable double-jabbed UK visitors and business travellers, as well as those with proof of a negative Covid-19 test, unfettered access.

“Giving the green light to quarantine-free travel, both to and from Europe, will re-energise travel and tourism and help accelerate the EU and global economic recovery.”

Although all EU states are meant to respect the Continent-wide travel ban, they are not legally required to do so. Countries including Greece, Malta and Spain have defied the restrictions to welcome back British tourists.

But most EU regimes want a joint approach to the issue as part of the reopening of travel routes.

Talks over a bloc-wide agreement to let Britons back in curb-free are expected to become overtly political when negotiations resume after the summer break.

Sources say this means any ruling is likely to be hijacked by hardline governments seeking to put a squeeze on No10 over Brexit.

Romanian MEP Cristian Terhes said the EU was willing to spite itself to get back at the UK for pulling out of the bloc.

He added: “Mandatory quarantine will undermine not just our freedoms but will also hurt tourism and the economies of both the UK and the EU.

“Besides violating founding values of the EU, this non-reciprocal bully boy action from the EU seeks to punish Britain for Brexit.”

One EU official said that some nations, including France and Germany, are frustrated with the Commission for “gifting the UK a diplomatic win” by pausing legal action against No10 over alleged breaches of the divorce deal.

The hardliners fear that Brussels may go too far in offering concessions to Britain, after Lord Frost called for the measures to be reworked in order to remove EU-ordered customs controls in Northern Ireland as part of the Brexit deal’s protocol for avoiding a hard border

They are hoping to build pressure on Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s Brexit chief, to ensure that the letter of EU single market law is applied and that the bloc does not buckle to UK demands for a wholesale renegotiation of the agreement.

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