The Brief – Breaking (for) summer

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter. [Shutterstock/ HYS_NP]

This summer will be different.

Travelling in the time of COVID-19 is not a pleasure, even inside Europe, and especially if you live in the EU and want to go to another continent. Intercontinental travel has almost completely stopped, only a few emergency connections are being maintained.

In some countries in Europe, it is true, the situation has improved compared to April and May.

But the range of travel destinations remains more limited than usual, it won’t be possible to travel far and the risk of being stranding somewhere is not unlikely.

Travel warnings still apply, but entry requirements differ significantly from one EU country to another, with each having their own COVID-19 mitigation measures that might include curfews or curtailed services, while borders can close and flights get cancelled with little advance warning.

Many member states, such as Germany, have already announced that in case there is a flare-up abroad and their own citizens get stranded, they would not activate a worldwide return campaign such as the one seen in March and April for a second time. So be advised…

In May, the European Commission drafted an action plan to try and save the summer holiday season by setting out a roadmap of health recommendations for airlines, hotels, campsites, restaurants and bars.

But with member states applying regulations differently and federal, regional and local levels in discord over the application or introduction of measures, travellers could be forgiven for being discouraged from making ambitious holiday plans.

Nevertheless, four of the largest airlines – Lufthansa, British Airways, United and American Airlines – have appealed to the US government and for the EU to lobby on their behalf and restart transatlantic travel – though the US is home to over a quarter of global infections.

It is unclear, however, whether their pleas will be heard any time soon. They will likely fall on deaf ears on the side of the EU, which religiously observes its external travel restrictions. They might be luckier with US Vice President Mike Pence, in charge of America’s error-riddled virus response.

In any case, Europe, which accounts for half of the world’s tourism market in terms of arrivals, has been hit hard by COVID-19.

With thousands of flights cancelled and borders closed, airlines have suffered the worst year on record, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), estimating global losses for air travel as much as €100 billion until the end of this year.

As the industry is going into the unknown, maybe, just maybe, this pandemic will bring about a long-overdue change in the global tourism industry, with the focus shifting towards travelling closer to home in a greener and more sustainable way.

On that note, enjoy your summer. And do make sure to check travel requirements before you set off.

The Roundup

Better cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure, doubling down on tackling terrorism and organized crime, and preparing the bloc for emerging threats in “real and digital” environments, dominate the European Commission’s new EU Security Union strategy.

The European Commission will propose legislation later this year and in 2021 that will force online platforms to undertake measures to stop the spread of online child abuse, the EU’s home affairs chief Ylva Johansson announced.

Nearly 60 journalists have resigned from the 90-member editorial team of Index, Hungary’s leading independent media outlet, in what is being described as a devastating blow to the country’s free press and media plurality.

The UK and Norway will begin trade talks within the coming weeks in a bid to minimise disruption and lost business after the UK leaves the EU single market at the end of 2020.

Aerospace giant Airbus announced it has made changes to existing aircraft contracts in order to come into line with a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling on subsidies. The firm and the EU both insist that it “removes any justification for US tariffs”.

EU nations must make urgent progress on mitigating the risks to 5G telecommunications networks posed by certain high-risk suppliers, the European Commission said in a progress report.

Look out for…

…your well deserved summer break.

This will be the last edition of The Brief until 24 August. Our European network of newsrooms is taking a break during the summer weeks as the news cycle slows down.

In the past few months we have worked incredibly hard to provide you with relevant news from across Europe. Our readership tripled, we adapted to the new reality with virtual events and your support helps us to continue innovating – thank you!

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Benjamin Fox/Zoran Radosavljevic]

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