Dec 22, 2020 - Economy & Business

EU recommends member states lift blanket ban on travel from U.K.

Traffic lanes in UK closed down

Lanes for frieght trucks are empty at the entrance to the closed ferry terminal at the Port of Dover in England. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

The European Commission adopted a recommendation on Tuesday calling on the bloc's 27 member states to lift blanket bans on flights and travel from the U.K. in order to "ensure essential travel and avoid supply chain disruptions," while also discouraging non-essential travel.

Why it matters: A new coronavirus variant in England found to be 70% more transmissible prompted dozens of countries to ban travel from the U.K. this week, in a scene reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic.

  • The closures forced miles of freight trucks to be stuck in lines at the U.K.'s Port of Dover, which sees roughly 10,000 trucks per day and accounts for about 20% of the U.K.'s goods trade.
  • The European Commission recommended that coronavirus testing be required for essential travelers, and that rigorous contact tracing efforts be carried out involving people who traveled to or from the U.K. in the past 14 days.

Between the lines: The recommendation by the Commission is non-binding, but the message being sent by European leadership is clear: lift border closures as soon as possible and restore the flow of goods.

The big picture: The massive disruptions to border flows and supply chains due to the new variant came just days before the U.K. is set to end the Brexit transition period without a free trade agreement with the EU — its largest and closest trading partner.

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