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Tourism MEPs advocate common criteria for safe and clean travel

EU Reporter Correspondent

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EU criteria for safe and clean tourism, including a common vaccination certificate, should be a part of a new EU strategy on sustainable tourism, said MEPs. The draft resolution on establishing an EU strategy for sustainable tourism, adopted by 47 votes in favour and two against, urges EU countries to include the tourism and travel sectors in their recovery plans and consider temporarily reducing VAT on these services.

‘Safe and clean’ tourism

The text says that the pandemic shifted traveller’s demand toward ‘safe and clean’ and more sustainable tourism. It asks the member states to fully and without delay implement common criteria for safe travel, with an EU Health Safety protocol for testing before departure, and applying quarantine requirement as a last resort.

MEPs want a common vaccination certificate, which could become an alternative to PCR tests and quarantine requirements, once there is sufficient evidence that vaccinated persons do not transmit the virus, or mutual recognition of vaccination procedures. They also stress the importance of deploying EU Passenger Locator Form and developing voluntary, interoperable and anonymized tracking, tracing and warning apps.

The draft resolution also urges the Commission to introduce the EU hygiene certification seal, which could certify minimum COVID-19 virus prevention and control standards and could help to restore consumer’s trust in tourism and travel sectors.

MEPs also welcomes the ‘Re-open EU portal and urges EU countries to send clear information on the application or lifting of future restrictions on free movement to the Commission.

New agency for tourism

MEPs advocate a need to look beyond the pandemic and replace the 2010 strategy on EU tourism to maintain Europe’s standing as a leading destination. The text finally calls on the Commission to set up a European Agency for Tourism.

“With summer just around the corner, we want to avoid past errors and put in place uniform travel measures, such as an EU protocol for tests before departure, a vaccination certificate, and a European sanitary seal. Tourism is one of the sectors that has been hit the hardest by this pandemic. It needs to be properly included in the Member States’ recovery plans and a mechanism to clearly show whether it benefits from EU support”, said European Parliament rapporteur Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar (EPP, PT).

Next steps

The resolution on establishing an EU strategy for sustainable tourism now needs to be voted by the full house of the Parliament, possibly during the March II session.

Background

The COVID-19 outbreak has paralyzed the EU tourism sector, which employs 27 million people (contributing around 10% of EU GDP), with 6 million jobs currently at risk.

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Therapeutics Strategy - First rolling review of a new COVID-19 medicine

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The European Medicines Agency has today (7 May) started the rolling review of sotrovimab (VIR-7831), a monoclonal antibody developed for the treatment of COVID-19. The review follows hot on the heels of the EU COVID-19 Therapeutics Strategy presented yesterday and is a first step towards the Strategy's target of starting seven rolling reviews of COVID-19 therapeutics in 2021. The rolling review launched by EMA will assess sotrovimab's effectiveness in preventing hospitalization and death; safety and quality. A rolling review is quicker than a regular evaluation as data is reviewed as it comes in. Should the European Medicines Agency recommend authorising the treatment at the end of its review, the European Commission will move swiftly to authorize it. 

The EU Therapeutics Strategy supports the development and availability of much needed COVID-19 therapeutics and covers the lifecycle of medicines: from research, development and manufacturing to procurement and deployment. It is part of the strong European Health Union, in which all EU countries prepare and respond together to health crises and ensure the availability of affordable and innovative medical supplies – including the therapeutics needed to treat COVID-19. More details on the EU Therapeutics Strategy are available in a press release and factsheet.

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Kazakhstan to deliver humanitarian assistance to India

Astana Times

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Kazakhstan will provide humanitarian assistance to India due to the sharp deterioration of the epidemiological situation in this country, reported the Akorda Press, writes Zhanna Shayakhmetova.

President Tokayev instructed the government to provide humanitarian aid to India during the meeting with Prime Minister Askar Mamin on 7 May.

This was announced at the meeting of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Prime Minister Askar Mamin on May 7.

President Tokayev instructed the government to dispatch 6 million medical masks, 400,000 respirators, 50,000 anti-plague suits, and 105 portable artificial lung ventilation devices made in Kazakhstan.

India observed a record daily rise in coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing total new cases for the week to 1.57 million, according to Reuters.

India is now the second most corona-affected country with the overall cases standing at 21.49 million. 

On May 4, Tokayev delivered a message to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to express “deep solidarity with the Indian nation over the devastating COVID-19 surge in their country.”

The President noted that Kazakhstan is ready “to unite efforts with our Indian friends to contain the spread of the pandemic and provide every possible assistance in the spirit of enduring friendship and mutual support between our states.”

Earlier, it was reported that Kazakhstan will provide humanitarian aid that consists of 10,000 tons of flour to Kyrgyzstan. 

“Guided by the principles of friendship, alliance and strategic partnership with Kyrgyzstan, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev decided to provide humanitarian assistance to the fraternal Kyrgyz people on behalf of the Kazakh people,”  President’s spokesperson Berik Uali wrote  on his Facebook on May 6. 

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India: EU mobilizes an initial €2.2 million in emergency funding for the vulnerable during COVID-19

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The Commission has announced that it will allocate an initial €2.2 million in emergency funding to respond to the drastic surge in COVID-19 cases in India. The funding will support the World Health Organization (WHO) for a 6-month case management of COVID-19 patients, as well as strengthening laboratory capacity for COVID-19 testing. Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said: “We are providing additional EU support towards the fight against COVID-19 in India. This comes on top of the generous and swift assistance from EU member states that stepped up as part of Team Europe to offer critical supplies of oxygen, ventilators and medicines over the last few days. We stand ready to work with the WHO and other partners on the ground to jointly fight this battle at this difficult time – we are stronger together.”

Member states have already mobilized supplies of urgently needed oxygen, ventilators and medicines from Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden to India over the last week via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

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