The European Union has “strongly encouraged” member states to implement pre-departure COVID testing on travelers from China in a move that will anger Beijing.
The global airline industry has criticized some EU countries’ recovery measures, saying they have “proven ineffective over the past three years”.
It comes as all 27 EU member states must implement pre-departure testing on visitors from China after a week of talks.
However, members including Italy, France and Spain have already implemented this initiative at the national level.
The United States had previously announced similar laws.
China has previously warned of “retaliatory measures” if such policies were imposed across the EU.
Earlier on Wednesday, EU Commission spokesman Tim McPhee said the “overwhelming majority of countries are in favor” of introducing pre-departure screening of travelers from China.
But the EU can’t seem to find an agreement to bind them all.
The EU presidency said in a statement that member states “agreed on a coherent precautionary approach” but fell short of a full agreement.
In the most important part of the statement, it states that “Member States are strongly encouraged to introduce a negative COVID-19 test requirement for all passengers departing from China to Member States”. .
On other issues, the EU said there is full agreement to require passengers to wear masks and advise on personal hygiene and health issues when traveling to and from China.
The Chinese government and European health experts have said that there is no urgent need for any travel restrictions, as variants of the coronavirus that emerged from China are already present in Europe.
On Wednesday, the International Air Transport Association, which represents nearly 300 airlines worldwide, lent its powerful voice to the protest.
“It is deeply disappointing to see this knee-jerk revival of measures that have proven ineffective over the past three years,” said director-general Willie Walsh.
Mr Walsh said, “Research around the arrival of the Omicron strain concluded that blocking the travel route made no difference to the spread of infection. At most, the restrictions pushed the peak by a few days. postponed until,” Mr. Walsh said.
However, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that he understood why several countries had recently taken measures against travelers from China, given the lack of data on the outbreak from the Chinese government. have done
The EU also said its approach was partly based on the need for “sufficient, reliable data” from China.
The bloc said it would reassess the situation by the middle of the month, a week after China officially eased travel restrictions on its citizens on Jan. 8.
A day after threatening retaliatory measures, Chinese government spokesman Mao Ning said on Wednesday that “we sincerely hope that all parties will focus on fighting the epidemic themselves, avoiding the politics of Covid”.
Still, the EU tried to take some sort of concerted action to ensure that travelers from China did not carry any potential new strains to the continent.
Afraid of being caught off-guard as the global pandemic began in early 2020, the EU Integrated Political Crisis Response Group wanted immediate action, and ended up encouraging several cases rather than imposing measures.
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