The European Union’s top diplomat in Washington says the United States should safely ease COVID-19 travel restrictions on Europeans. He is calling it a mistake to prevent European business executives from overseeing their U.S. investments.
Stavros Lambrinidis told a virtual trade event on Wednesday that Brussels was working to resolve the issue. He is hopeful an agreement may come “very soon.”
He says the EU allows Americans working in Europe and had a valid work visa to enter the EU; so that trade and investment could continue. But stricter travel restrictions were in place for European citizens.
That meant Europeans living in the United States visit their families in Europe. But they can’t return.
Travel restrictions have to end
“Travel restrictions have to end,” he told a Washington International Trade Association event.
“We have to be able to kickstart our economies again, together,” he says, noting that 60% of foreign investment in the United States came from Europe. “The executives of those companies want to be able to travel to the U.S. to oversee those investments. And today they can’t because of the travel restrictions. It’s a mistake.”
Lambrinidis says he is encouraged by progress made during last week’s U.S.-EU summit, and an agreement to suspend tariffs for five years in a long-running dispute over aircraft subsidies paid to Airbus and Boeing.
He says a dispute over U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the United States, citing “national security concerns”, is more complex. But he expresses optimism that the two sides could settle issue before now-suspended EU countermeasures kick in again in December.
“We have now about five and a half months; that’s plenty of time to resolve this,” he says, “And resolving it means dealing … with the Chinese overcapacity issue together as allies.”
Back to the travel restrictions, Lambrinidis insists they should’t stay in place.