Merkel’s plot to trigger ’emergency brake’ and ban Britons from EU flops – bloc divided
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In a humiliating defeat for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mediterranean nations rejected her efforts to impose a 14-day quarantine on anyone arriving from Britain. Berlin is instead planning to go at it alone after the likes of Spain, Portugal and Greece announced separate plans to welcome back Britons to their beaches. In a private Brussels meeting tonight, German officials demanded that EU nations trigger an “emergency brake” to impose draconian restrictions on travel from Britain.
An EU diplomat told Express.co.uk: “Germany indicated they wanted to implement an ‘emergency brake’, meaning they will impose more restrictions on travellers from the UK.”
But even France refused to follow suit despite President Emmanuel Macron’s previous support for the hardline measures.
Responding to the German plan to ban Britons, a second insider said: “This is something that cannot be done.
“They decided it is up to member states to decide whether they will impose further measures or not.”
Mrs Merkel’s chief spokesman admitted that she had failed to secure a common European approach but vowed to keep fighting for a ban on Britons.
Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin: “Where this uniformity does not exist we will continue to campaign for it.”
It came as Downing Street and Brussels were closing in on an agreement to accept each other’s vaccine passports for quarantine-free holidays.
Negotiators were said to be nearing on a pact that would allow double-jabbed Britons to use the NHS app to enter the Continent.
Under the scheme, restrictions would also be eased for EU citizens looking to travel to the UK in the coming months.
But Spain, Portugal, Greece and Malta were already charging on with plans to grant Britons restriction-free access if they have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
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In a direct snub to Berlin, Spanish foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said her government would still “welcome British citizens to spend their holidays in Spain”.
She said that those who are not fully vaccinated could still enter with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.
Both Portugal and Malta also said they would not impose quarantine on any double-jabbed Britons looking to travel there this summer.
A European Commission spokesman said: “There are talks ongoing at the technical level which are progressing well and going in the right direction.
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“It’s good the UK is now working with us towards that goal of achieving such an interoperable solution.”
He added: “The situation that applies to the UK is travellers who are fully vaccinated should be allowed by member states to arrive into the EU.
“From the Commission side we expect member states to apply this recommendation fully.”
Progress on the deal was helped by the fact the NHS app and the EU’s digital green certificate operate in a similar way.
And a separate post-Brexit agreement on data sharing has also paved the way to the move because both sides have the same data protection standards.
A UK Government spokesman said: “Unlocking international travel in a safe, secure and sustainable way is vitally important which is why we have been engaging bilaterally and multilaterally on how best to achieve our aims.”
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