Angela Merkel will tell EU leaders to impose quarantine restrictions on British tourists to stop the spread of the delta variant of coronavirus at a summit in Brussels today.
The German Chancellor said she would “talk very critically” at the European Council meeting and upbraid the leaders of tourism dependent countries for "a failure even today to adequately control arrival from non-EU states where virus variants are proliferating."
Different EU countries have different rules for visitors from the UK, where the delta variant makes up the majority of cases.
EU countries can make their own decisions on border and health policy, including coronavirus restrictions, but there are efforts, now spearheaded by Mrs Merkel, to ensure the bloc’s response is coordinated.
Mrs Merkel warned that Europe was on “thin ice” in its fight against the pandemic and that the delta variant risked undermining recent progress in cutting down infections in her traditional pre-EU summit address to the Bundestag on Thursday.
France, Germany, Italy and Poland either have or will introduce quarantine restrictions.
Tourism-dependent countries such as Spain, Greece, Portugal and Croatia are expected to ignore the German demand for fear of another lost season.
Boris Johnson is today expected to approve plans for fully vaccinated people to be able to travel to amber list countries later this summer and not be subject to quarantine when they return home.
Angela Merkel will press for greater coordination among EU member states in their response to coronavirus.
Credit: Getty Images
Mrs Merkel has long been the EU’s most influential leader but will step down after elections in September.
"We need to remain vigilant," she said in what could be her last address to the Bundestag as Chancellor.
"In particular, the newly arising variants, especially now the delta variant, are a warning for us to continue to be careful."
She appeared to have won support from Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, before the summit.
"We need to keep a close eye on variants and contain their spread in a coordinated manner," he said in a letter to EU leaders.
The UK has not been added to the EU’s "white list" of countries because of the spread of the delta variant. The list, which is not binding, exempts countries on it from a ban on non-essential travel into the bloc.
"In our country, if you come from Great Britain, you have to go into quarantine – and that’s not the case in every European country, and that’s what I would like to see," Mrs Merkel said on Wednesday.
Infections have dropped in the EU as vaccinations have increased but the new highly contagious variant is spreading across the Continent.
Delta has become the dominant variant in Portugal and has emerged in clusters in Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
EU health officials predicted on Wednesday that the delta variant will make up 90 per cent of all cases across the bloc by the end of August.
In Germany, the delta variant now makes up about 15 per cent of new cases, according to the country’s disease control agency.
The EU’s vaccine passport system is due to come online at the end of the month, which is hoped will allow for the return of free movement and tourism between EU member states.