Explanatory Memorandum to COM(2021)232 - Amendment of Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/912 on the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU and the possible lifting of such restriction

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Reasons for and objectives of the proposal

The Communication “A common path to safe and sustained re-opening” (COM(2021)129) outlined the Commission’s intention to keep reviewing the approach set out in Council Recommendation 2020/912 for the lifting of the restriction on non-essential travel to the EU in order to adapt it to the evolving context.

At present, the developments in the epidemiological situation in third countries are heterogeneous.

On the one hand, the emergence and spread of variants of interest and of variants of concerns in some regions and third countries remain a cause of concern. Strong measures remain essential to minimise the import and spread of such variants from high-risk areas into the EU+ 1 area, with travel reduced to the minimum and with all possible safeguards. Given the volatility of the situation, it is also essential to be able to respond to risks quickly, and this proposal establishes an “emergency brake” mechanism assisting Member States in deciding on the best measures to avoid or limit the spread of such variants and in providing for a coordinated approach.

On the other hand, the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in third countries, and the subsequent positive effect in limiting the spread of the virus, indicate that there is room to ease travel restrictions, particularly for those already vaccinated. In this sense, this proposal aims at progressively resuming travel from third countries in a safe manner, relaunching tourism, especially in view of the summer season, and business travelling, thus fostering the recovery of Europe’s economy. The adoption of the Regulation on the Digital Green Certificate 2 will provide the basis, through a Commission implementing act, for treating third country vaccination certificates as Digital Green Certificates, or to issue such certificates to persons having been vaccinated in third countries.

These two aspects of the proposal are mutually complementary and consistent in achieving the safe opening of the EU whenever possible while, at the same time, ensuring rapid action against existing and possible new variants.

Consistency with existing policy provisions in the policy area

This proposal for a recommendation serves to implement the existing provisions in the policy area, namely carrying out checks on persons and monitoring efficiently the crossing of external borders.

Consistency with other Union policies

This recommendation is in line with other Union policies, including those regarding external relations and public health.


Legal basis

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and in particular points (b) and (e) of Article 77(2) and Article 292, first and second sentence, thereof.

Subsidiarity (for non-exclusive competence)

Article 292 TFEU enables the Council to adopt recommendations. According to the first sentence of this provision, the Council shall adopt recommendations, and according to the second sentence of this provision, the Council shall act on a proposal from the Commission in all cases where the Treaties provide that it shall adopt acts on a proposal from the Commission.

This applies in the current situation, considering that a consistent approach at the external border requires a common solution. Article 77(2)(b) TFEU provides for measures on checks on persons crossing the external borders, while Article 77(2)(e) TFEU provides for the absence of any controls on persons, whatever their nationality, when crossing internal borders. Measures on the basis of Article 77(2) TFEU are to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure. Pursuant to Article 289(1) TFEU, the ordinary legislative procedure takes place on a proposal from the Commission.


The present proposal takes account of the evolving epidemiological situation and all available relevant evidence. The authorities of the Member States and the Schengen Associated Countries remain responsible for implementing the proposed Council Recommendation. Therefore, the proposal is suitable for achieving the intended objective and does not go beyond what is necessary and proportionate.

Choice of the instrument

This proposal has the objective to amend Council Recommendation 2020/912. This objective requires another Council Recommendation.


Ex-post evaluations/fitness checks of existing legislation


Stakeholder consultations

This proposal takes into account discussions with Member States since the implementation of the first temporary restrictions to non-essential travel. No impact assessment was undertaken although the proposal takes into account the evolving epidemiological situation and all available relevant evidence.