As summer approaches and the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be receding everywhere on the Old Continent, the Delta variant (called “Indian”) is starting to worry some Europeans a lot. What if the upturn was fleeting ?, they ask themselves. Particularly in France and Germany, but also in Belgium, Ireland and Slovakia.
On the occasion of the European Council held in Brussels on Thursday 24 June, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the greatest caution. She had warned when she arrived in the Belgian capital: she would be “Very critical” with regard to those who do not coordinate with their partners and hastily open their borders.
It took to part Greece, which welcomed Russian tourists, vaccinated with Sputnik V, which the European Medicines Agency has not yet authorized. It also targeted Portugal and Spain, who want to save their tourist season and have opened their borders to the British (without quarantine) while the Delta variant is rapidly spreading across the Channel.
Last weekend, Lisbon had to adopt new restrictive measures in the face of the resurgence of the virus. A few hours earlier, in front of the Bundestag, Mme Merkel had judged that, in the face of the pandemic, Europe is working “On fine ice” that the slightest misstep would shatter. “We must all be vigilant”, added President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, also calling for greater coordination between Europeans.
On paper, it exists. During the month of June, the Twenty-Seven agreed to a coordinated opening of their borders, inside and outside the European Union (EU), while at the same time granting the possibility, if the pandemic were to spread again, to activate a “Emergency brake” and introduce new restrictions.
As far as third countries are concerned, an (evolving) list of thirteen countries has been drawn up, including the United States and Australia in particular, and whose nationals can come to Europe again. The UK is not on the list. These are, however, mere recommendations, to which member states are not forced to comply.
“Costa did not like that Merkel criticized him”, confides a diplomat. The Portuguese Prime Minister, in any case, defended himself, arguing that, if the circulation of the variant accelerated in his country, it did not lead to an increase in the number of hospitalizations, populations at risk being now widely vaccinated. .
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