This was one of the worst weeks for China on the world stage in a while

China's President Xi Jinping rubs his eyes
Chinese President Xi Jinping rubs his eye as he arrives for the seventh plenary session of the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

  • It was a bad week for China on the world stage.
  • President Biden is getting a warm reception in Europe rallying our democratic allies in the G7, the EU and NATO.
  • And at home, our squabbling US Senate somehow managed to pass a $250 billion bill countering China.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

This week the leaders of the Western world turned their eyes toward China, and as a result it was one of the worst weeks for Beijing on the world stage in some time.

In Washington, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate set aside their differences to pass a $250 billion industrial policy bill aimed at preparing US commerce and government for competition with Beijing. And while on a diplomatic trip to Europe, President Joe Biden is reinvigorating our ties to our allies in Europe, the G7 group of nations, and NATO. On the top of the agenda in these meetings is the question of how to counter an aggressive, totalitarian China on the rise.

This comes as every indication points to China moving farther and farther away being an open, even remotely democratic society.

Earlier this week Amnesty International published an in-depth look at life for Muslims living in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, calling it a “dystopian hellscape” where Muslims are terrorized and arbitrarily forced into labor camps as part of “part of a larger campaign of subjugation and forced assimilation.” The Times also reported the Chinese government is seizing Uyghur Muslims who flee abroad.

On the economic front, the Chinese legislature rushed through a bill expanding the government’s means and methods to retaliate against foreign sanctions including the ability to seize foreign companies’ Chinese assets, deny visas, and block the ability to do deals in China. Foreign businesses in the country were caught flat-footed.

At the heart of China’s bellicose behavior is the belief, held among many elites in the Chinese Communist Party, that the US and its partners in the West are in a state of decline. This idea took root during the 2008 financial crisis, and then was reaffirmed by the European debt crisis, the election of Donald Trump and his agression towards our European allies, and the United State’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

To the CCP, our way of life looks like chaos – a cacophony of voices sometimes forcefully pulling our discourse to the right then back to the left. They’ve convinced themselves that we can no longer organize and unify our societies to do the ambitious things that need to be done to win the future. This week the West showed China signs that – when it comes to countering a strengthening totalitarian power – that may not be the case.

A matter of trust

China squandered a massive opportunity over the last four years. As president, Donald Trump snubbed America’s traditional allies and made overtures to the world’s thugs and petty dictators. That could have been a moment when China cozied up to Europe as a more stable alternative, instead China wound up alienating the continent with its overbearing behavior.

For example, at the beginning of this year it seemed certain that the European Union and China would sign a trade deal, against the wishes of the United States. But in March, when the EU sanctioned China over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims, Beijing – in keeping with its policy of aggressive “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy – responded by sanctioning members of EU Parliament. This put the EU-China trade deal on an indefinite hold.

That brings us to Biden and his current trip to Europe, where the president is trying to rebuild trust among nations. His administration is working on undoing the tariffs the Trump administration put on its EU partners with an aim to lift them by the end of the year. He is encouraging unity on the European continent, urging UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to settle his differences with the EU over Brexit and keep the peace on the Ireland-Northern Ireland border. Biden also announced that the US would donate 500 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to over 100 countries “no strings attached.”

Trump’s betrayal of our allies left commentators around the world wondering if US-led groups like the G7 would be able to cooperate enough to do hard things again. This week we’re seeing signs that they can and will. The first sign was Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s momentous announcement that the G7 had come to an agreement on an international minimum corporate tax to stop the race to the bottom in taxing the world’s richest companies.

And now it appears Biden is also rallying our allies to counter China. Before he left for Europe, Biden met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House. Addressing the press after their meeting Stoltenberg said China “doesn’t share our values.” Biden will attend a NATO summit on Monday, and it will produce the strongest statement in its history on NATO’s stance on China, according to the Wall Street Journal.

From the comfortable primeval mud

Legendary American diplomat George Kennan – known for outlining the US policy of containing the USSR during the Cold War – used to say that the US people are always about 10 years behind its diplomats when it comes to seeing danger from abroad. Lecturing back in 1950 he compared democracies to a giant prehistoric monster “with a body as long as this room and a brain the size of a pin” that needs to be directly confronted with a problem before it awakens from the “comfortable primeval mud.” But when a challenge does gain our attention, Kennan said, the country lashes out with “such blind determination that he not only destroys his adversary but largely wrecks his native habitat.”

Perhaps the US has learned something from Kennan. Consider the Senate’s passage of a 2,400 page bill aimed at shoring up the US as an economic and technological superpower. The size and scope of the bill shows that our leaders are trying to meet a challenge before it’s an emergency.

The bill allocates $52 billion to building up the semiconductor industry in the US in order to decrease our dependence on semiconductors from China and Taiwan. The bill also funds major research, allocating $81 billion to the National Science Foundation from 2022 to fiscal 2026 and $120 billion into technologies like artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

There are also diplomatic and intelligence measures. It bars US diplomats from attending the Olympics in Beijing, and requires the intelligence community to produce a report about China’s efforts to influence international bodies like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organizations and United Nations. It passed the fractious US Senate – sometimes sardonically referred to as Mitch McConnell’s “legislative graveyard” – on a vote of 68 to 32.

China responded to the bill saying that it “slanders China” and is “full of Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice.”

In a time when the leaders of the richest country in the world are squabbling amongst themselves over whether or not to fund the building of roads and bridges, this bill is a heartening sight. The most important ways the US can counter China are by strengthening itself domestically and by preparing for the worst with its allies. If the giant prehistoric monster hasn’t awakened, this week shows that it now at least has one eye open.

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Europe has fined Google $10 billion in recent years. Now Germany is investigating whether its data slurping gives it an unfair advantage.

Sundar Pichai
Sundar Pichai, Alphabet’s chief executive, is facing up to another antitrust case.

  • German officials have launched a fresh antitrust investigation into Google’s business practices.
  • The tech giant has been fined more than $10 billion by European legislators in recent years.
  • Germany’s FCO said Google’s data collection practices gave it a ‘strategic advantage.’
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Google is facing yet another antitrust probe in Europe, after German authorities announced they were investigating whether the firm’s data collection practices give it an unfair advantage.

On Tuesday morning, the Federal Cartel Office (FCO) issued a statement saying it would investigate Google’s business practices in line with a recent amendment to German law, which enables it to “intervene earlier and more effectively … against the practices of large digital companies.”

The watchdog said that Google’s panoply of essential digital services, such as search, YouTube, Maps, Android, and Chrome, it “could be considered to be of paramount significance for competition across markets.”

FCO president Andreas Mundt added that the probes would take into account “whether consumers wishing to use Google’s services have sufficient choice as to how Google will use their data.”

The FCO is running two simultaneous investigations to that end, one against Google Germany, and one against its European HQ in Ireland.

Changes to German competition law has enabled authorities to be more proactive in their scrutiny of tech giants, with the FCO also launching probes into Facebook and Amazon’s business practices in recent months.

The European Union has hit the tech giant with more than $10 billion in fines over the past few years, and launched a further two probes into its advertising practices on the continent earlier this year.

The European Commission has previously fined Google for anti-competitive behaviour three times in as many years: first for $2.7 billion in 2017, again for $5 billion in 2018, and once more for $1.7 billion in 2019. The firm has repeatedly rejected the EU’s findings, however, and met officials in court to appeal the first fine in February 2020.

Insider approached Google for comment.

Are you a current or former Googler with more to share? You can contact this reporter securely using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+447801985586) or email (mcoulter@businessinsider.com). Reach out using a nonwork device.

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Protestors in Poland demand the release of a Belarusian dissident who was arrested after the government diverted his Lithuania-bound flight

Protestors in Poland demand the release of Belarusian dissident Roman Protasevich.
Belarusians living in Poland and Poles supporting them hold up a placard reading ‘Freedom to Roman Protasevich’ during a demonstration in front of the European Commission office in Warsaw on May 24, 2021.

  • Protestors gathered in Warsaw, Poland, to demand the release of Belarusian dissident Roman Protasevich.
  • Protasevich, a vocal critic of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, was taken into custody after the government diverted his Lithuania-bound flight to Minsk.
  • His arrest also drew international outrage as other world leaders said Belarus should be held accountable.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Residents in Poland as well as Belarusians living in the country joined together to protest the arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich on Monday. Activists condemned the arrest after Belarus authorities grounded the plane citing a bogus security threat.

Belarusians living in Poland and Poles supporting them take part in a demonstration in Warsaw, Poland, demanding the release of Belarusian dissident Roman Protasevich.
Belarusians living in Poland and Poles supporting them take part in a demonstration in front of European Commission office in Warsaw on May 24, 2021.

Protasevich, a vocal critic of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, was taken into custody after the Belarusian government forced his Lithuania-bound flight to land in Minsk.

Belarusians living in Poland and Poles supporting them hold up a placard reading 'Free Roman Protasevich' during a demonstration.
A protester holds up a sign reading “Free Roman Pratasevich” (sic) during a demonstration in front of the European Commission office in Warsaw on May 24, 2021.

Source: Insider

Pilots on flight FR4978 were ordered to “divert to the nearest airport,” citing a potential bomb threat aboard the plane. Belarusian state media reported it was Lukashenko who gave an “unequivocal order” to ground the jet.

People hold banners during a protest against the detention of the Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich
People hold banners during a protest against the detention of the Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich in front of the European Commission representative office on May 24, 2021, in Warsaw, Poland.

Source: Insider

Protestors used paper airplanes as a visual prop to symbolize the aircraft being diverted to Minsk.

Belarusians in Warsaw, Poland, hang paper aircrafts during a protest against the detention of the Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich
Belarusians hang paper aircraft during a protest against the detention of dissident journalist Roman Protasevich in front of the European Commission representative office on May 24, 2021, in Warsaw, Poland.

Protasevich’s arrest drew international outrage as EU leaders condemned the forced grounding of the flight and called for the “immediate release” of Protasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega, who was also escorted off the flight.

Protestors in Poland demanding the release of Belarusian dissident Roman Protasevich.
A protester holds a sign that says “I’m gravely concerned” during a protest in support of the release of Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich in front of the European Commission representative office on May 24, 2021 in Warsaw, Poland.

Source: Insider

The European Union took action to isolate Belarus on Monday, ordering all EU-based airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace. The EU also banned Belarusian airlines from occupying the bloc’s airspace and using its airports.

A protestor holds up an airplane during a demonstration demanding the release of Belarusian dissident Roman Protasevich.
A demonstrator holds up a paper plane that says “Free Belarus” and “Free Roman Protasevich” during a demonstration in Warsaw, May 24, 2021.

Source: Insider

The EU’s move to sever Belarus air ties isn’t the first time the bloc cracked down on the Belarusian government. Late last year, the EU imposed sanctions on several Belarusian officials – including President Aleksandr Lukashenko – in the wake of the contested presidential elections in August.

A woman holds a banner during a protest against the detention of the Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich
A woman holds a banner calling Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko a terrorist during a protest against the detention of the Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich in front of the European Commission representative office on May 24, 2021, in Warsaw, Poland.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The EU moves to isolate Belarus after the government diverted a flight carrying a Belarusian dissident

ryanair activist Roman Protasevich lukashenko
A woman stands with a poster reading ‘Where is Roman (Protasevich)?!’at Vilnius International Airport, on May 23, 2021.

  • The EU moved to isolate Belarus after the government diverted a flight to arrest a journalist.
  • Roman Protasevich was on the Ryanair flight when it landed in Minsk due to a bogus security threat.
  • The bloc ordered EU-based airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace and banned Belarusian airlines from its airspace and airports.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The European Union moved to isolate Belarus in light of the arrest of a journalist who was arrested after the government diverted a Ryanair flight on Sunday.

The EU ordered all EU-based airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace and banned Belarusian airlines from entering EU airspace and landing in its airports. The move was announced Monday during a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels.

Journalist Roman Protasevich was taken into custody after the Lithuania-bound flight he was aboard was grounded in Minsk due to a bogus security threat. Protasevich is a vocal critic of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who gave an “unequivocal order” to ground the Ryanair jet in Minsk, according to state media.

Protasevich’s arrest drew international outrage as EU leaders condemned the forced grounding of the flight and called for the “immediate release” of Protasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega, who was also escorted off the flight. World leaders also demanded “their freedom of movement be guaranteed.”

Read more: Don’t let Ryanair ignore your right not to be kidnapped

Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Union’s European Commission, said the “outrageous and illegal behavior of the regime in Belarus will have consequences.”

“Those responsible for the Ryanair hijacking must be sanctioned,” von der Leyen said in a statement on Twitter. “Journalist Roman Protasevich must be released immediately.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also called the incident an “unprecedented act of state terrorism.”

“Hijacking of a civilian plane is an unprecedented act of state terrorism. It cannot go unpunished,” Morawiecki said in a statement, adding that he would petition for sanctions against Belarus in light of Protasevich’s arrest.

At the Brussels summit, Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, described the incident as “madness,” according to a report by The New York Times.

“It’s like something out of a very bad movie,” Bettel said. “It shows the state of the regime.”

EU officials said few raised objections to the move to avoid Belarusian airspace – a rare occurrence as the bloc does not tend to come to a consensus on controversial issues so quickly and easily, The Times reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A routine commercial flight from Athens to Lithuania spiraled into a dramatic international incident that has world leaders outraged. Here’s what happened, and why it’s a huge deal.

Ryanair plane
Ryanair.

Hello! This story is from today’s edition of Morning Brew, an awesome daily email publication read by 2.5 million next-generation leaders like you. Sign up here to get it!

A routine commercial flight from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, spiraled into a dramatic international incident after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko forced the flight to make an unscheduled pit stop in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.

How it happened: As soon as the plane approached Lithuanian airspace, Belarusian authorities sent a fighter jet to accompany the plane to Minsk on account of a “bomb threat,” but that turned out to be a ruse. Lukashenko was after one of the passengers, dissident journalist and blogger Roman Protasevich, who was arrested once the plane landed in Minsk.

European leaders were stunned and outraged by Lukashenko’s move. Poland’s prime minister called it “an “unprecedented act of state terrorism” and Lithuania’s president asked NATO and the EU to “immediately react to the threat posed to international civil aviation by the Belarus regime.”

Big picture: Considered “Europe’s last dictator,” Lukashenko has held power in Belarus for almost 27 years, and his authoritarian actions-including a brutal crackdown on protesters last year following a disputed election-are increasing tensions with the West.

Looking ahead…EU leaders are meeting in Brussels today for a summit. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said officials will discuss taking action in response to the “outrageous and illegal behavior” of the Belarusian regime.

This story is from today’s edition of Morning Brew, a daily email publication. Sign up here to get it!

Read the original article on Business Insider

European countries will soon accept vaccinated US travelers. Here are the documents you’ll need and how to know when it’s safe.

airport mask
A federal police officer checks the document of a passenger at Frankfurt Airport in Germany.

  • EU representatives voted Wednesday to allow fully vaccinated US travelers to visit soon.
  • Americans will need to prove they’ve had their shots, but the specific rules may vary by country.
  • Greece and Iceland, among the few countries already open to US tourists, are accepting CDC cards.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Hold on to your vaccination cards: European Union representatives agreed on Wednesday that Americans who have been fully immunized should be allowed to visit the EU’s 27 member nations. They won’t have to show a negative COVID-19 test result or quarantine upon arrival, NBC News reported. Children may also be able to accompany their vaccinated parents abroad, regardless of their own vaccination status – provided that they have a negative coronavirus test.

The new travel guidelines are expected to be formally approved by the European Council later this week, meaning travel from the US to Europe could be possible this summer.

It’s likely that Americans will need to show government-issued vaccine certificates to visit most European countries. For now, neither EU nor US officials have specified whether people will need to show the white vaccination card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other documentation.

Lisa Lee, a public-health expert at Virginia Tech, said European countries will probably have patchwork of different rules for US travelers.

“Some have said they’re only going to accept electronic [vaccine records] so it can be verified,” Lee told Insider. “Other people are afraid that the CDC cards are too prone to fraud and they won’t accept the paper cards.”

In an interview with Ouest France, French President Emmanuel Macron said foreign tourists could visit France with a “health pass” starting June 9. Macron didn’t expand on what that pass would look like, though.

Spain’s tourism secretary, meanwhile, has said the country is prepared to let travelers return in June – as long as visitors show proof they’ve been vaccinated, recently tested negative for the coronavirus, or recently recovered from COVID-19.

“One thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, told The New York Times in April, referring to the European Medicines Agency. The EMA has authorized all three vaccines used in the US: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

Already, a few European countries – including Greece and Iceland – are allowing visitors from the US. Their policies could offer a hint at what to expect from other nations moving forward.

The US still doesn’t recommend travel to Europe

A TSA officer wears a mask at Logan International Airport in Boston in March 2020.
A TSA officer wears a mask at Logan Airport in Boston in March 2020.

The CDC currently recommends avoiding all international travel to European countries, with the exception of Iceland and the UK. (The agency says Americans can travel there for essential visits only.) Similarly, the US is denying entry to visitors from the EU or UK unless they’re US citizens.

The Biden administration hasn’t said whether it will remove these restrictions in the near future, but travel and aviation groups are pushing the US government to open its borders to more countries, with testing requirements in place.

For now, the US also requires fully vaccinated Americans to test negative before reentering the country.

Lee said this policy helps protect the population from highly transmissible variants that are more prevalent in other countries and might evade protection from vaccines.

“These vaccines are incredibly effective, but they’re not 100% – and they’re certainly not 100% or as effective against strains that we don’t know about yet that might be developing through transmission, so it’s still a good time to be somewhat cautious,” she said.

Greece and Iceland are accepting CDC cards as proof of vaccination

tourist greece
Tourists wear face masks at the the Akropolis in Athens, Greece on November 2, 2020.

As of April 19, Greece is welcoming US travelers with a few stipulations: Visitors are asked to fill out a locator form at least one day before entering or leaving the country. Americans must also provide proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated – a CDC card is sufficient – or present a negative PCR test.

US travelers don’t need to quarantine under this policy, a change that came with the new rule. Previously, Americans entering Greece had to isolate for a week. If a person tests positive upon arrival, however, they’ll be transported to a hotel, where Greek authorities will confirm the test results and ask them to stay inside for 10 days.

US travelers to Iceland can also avoid the nation’s mandatory quarantine by presenting a CDC card that shows they are fully vaccinated. Alternatively, a person can provide proof that they’ve had COVID-19 already – either through a positive PCR or antibody test result.

iceland tourists
Tourists walk in Reykjavik, Iceland on April 3, 2020.

But those going to Iceland still need to take another COVID-19 test upon arrival, then wait at their accommodation until the results are back (which can take up to 24 hours). Hotels in Iceland may ask to see your CDC vaccination card as well.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Montenegro aren’t requiring US travelers to quarantine, either, if they show proof of vaccination. Italy is similarly allowing American visitors to bypass quarantine requirements with a negative COVID-19 test.

UK residents have been able to travel internationally since May 17 – but Americans who want to visit the UK must still present a negative COVID-19 test, quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, and get tested twice during their visit.

Travel requirements aside, an international trip brings risks

airport travel
A traveler wears a face mask at Los Angeles International Airport on January 25, 2021.

Just because a country is accepting US travelers doesn’t mean a visit is low-risk. For Americans trying to decide whether to travel or where to go, Lee recommended that fully vaccinated people look at two key metrics: low levels of transmission and case numbers that are declining day over day.

“If you look at Portugal, for example, the incidence is a lot lower than Spain and they’re right next to each other,” Lee said.

On average, Spain is recording nearly 102 daily cases per 1 million people, while Portugal is recording around 39 daily cases per 1 million people. The CDC defines low transmission as fewer than 5 cumulative new cases per 100,000 people over the prior 28 days, and moderate transmission as fewer than 50 cumulative new cases per 100,000 people over 28 days.

If you’re looking to lower your risk of infection, choose less crowded locales where you’re unlikely to bump into people who haven’t been vaccinated. Opt out of large events like concerts or soccer matches, too.

london UK reopening
Outdoor dining in London on April 18, 2021.

“If you’re planning a trip to the countryside, that’s a very different calculus than if you’re planning a trip to the middle of a bustling city,” Lee said.

Of course, outbreaks can also change course quickly, so a country that looks safe now may have high levels of transmission in three months.

“Check the requirements frequently, right up until the departure date, as every country’s policies are going to be changing in response to the way the epidemic evolves,” Lee said.

The website Skyscanner offers real-time updates on countries’ travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. Make sure to prepare the necessary documentation for each country you plan to visit.

“You don’t want to get from one place to another and discover, ‘Oh, whoops, they need this piece of paper or that piece of software and I don’t have that,'” Lee said.

This story has been updated. It was originally published on May 2, 2021.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Europe may allow vaccinated US travelers this summer. Here are the documents you’ll need and how to know when it’s safe.

airport mask
A federal police officer checks the document of a passenger who landed from Prague at Frankfurt Airport in Germany.

  • European countries could accept fully vaccinated US travelers this summer.
  • Americans would need to prove they’ve had their shots, but the specific rules may vary by country.
  • Greece and Iceland, among the few countries already open to US tourists, are accepting CDC cards.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Hold on to your vaccination cards: Americans who have been fully immunized could be allowed to travel to Europe this summer, the president of the European Commission recently told The New York Times.

While the European Union hasn’t yet announced the formal requirements to enter its 27 member nations, it’s likely that Americans will need government-issued vaccine certificates. For now, neither EU nor US officials have specified whether people will need to show the white vaccination card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other documentation.

Lisa Lee, a public-health expert at Virginia Tech, said European countries will probably have patchwork of different rules for US travelers.

“Some have said they’re only going to accept electronic [vaccine records] so it can be verified,” Lee told Insider. “Other people are afraid that the CDC cards are too prone to fraud and they won’t accept the paper cards.”

In an interview with Ouest France, French President Emmanuel Macron said foreign tourists could visit France with a “health pass” starting June 9. Macron didn’t expand on what that pass would look like, though. Spain’s tourism secretary, meanwhile, said this week that the country is prepared to let travelers back in in June – as long as visitors show proof they’ve been vaccinated, recently tested negative for the coronavirus, or recently recovered from COVID-19. And UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested earlier this month that British people could start traveling internationally on May 17.

“One thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, told The Times, referring to the European Medicines Agency. The EMA has authorized all three vaccines used in the US: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

Already, a few European countries – including Greece and Iceland – are allowing visitors from the US. Their policies could offer a hint at what to expect from other nations moving forward.

The US still doesn’t recommend travel to Europe

A TSA officer wears a mask at Logan International Airport in Boston in March 2020.
A TSA officer wears a mask at Logan International Airport in Boston in March 2020.

The CDC currently recommends avoiding all international travel to European countries, with the exception of Iceland. (The agency says Americans can travel there for essential visits only.) Similarly, the US is denying entry to visitors from the EU or UK unless they’re US citizens.

The Biden administration hasn’t said whether it will remove these restrictions in the near future, but travel and aviation groups are pushing the US government to open its borders to more countries, with testing requirements in place.

For now, the US also requires fully vaccinated Americans to test negative before reentering the country.

Lee said this policy helps protect the population from highly transmissible coronavirus variants that are more prevalent in other countries and might evade protection from vaccines.

“These vaccines are incredibly effective, but they’re not 100% – and they’re certainly not 100% or as effective against strains that we don’t know about yet that might be developing through transmission, so it’s still a good time to be somewhat cautious,” she said.

Greece and Iceland are accepting CDC cards as proof of vaccination

tourist greece
Tourists wear face masks at the the Akropolis in Athens, Greece on November 2, 2020.

As of April 19, Greece is welcoming US travelers with a few stipulations: Visitors are asked to fill out a locator form at least one day before entering or leaving the country. Americans must also provide proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated – a CDC card is sufficient – or present a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their arrival.

US travelers don’t need to quarantine under this policy, a change that came with the new rule. Previously, Americans entering Greece had to isolate for a week. If a person tests positive upon arrival, however, they’ll be transported to a hotel, where Greek authorities will confirm the test results and ask them to stay inside for 10 days. After that, they can be released following a negative PCR test.

US travelers to Iceland can also avoid the nation’s mandatory quarantine by presenting a CDC card that shows they are fully vaccinated. Alternatively, a person can provide proof that they’ve had COVID-19 already – either through a positive PCR or antibody test result.

iceland tourists
Tourists walk in Reykjavik, Iceland on April 3, 2020.

But those going to Iceland still need to take another COVID-19 test upon arrival, then wait at their accommodation until the results are back (which can take up to 24 hours). Hotels in Iceland may ask to see your CDC vaccination card as well.

Croatia, Georgia, Montenegro aren’t requiring US travelers to quarantine, either, if they show proof of vaccination.

Travel requirements aside, an international trip brings risks

airport travel
A traveler wears a face mask at Los Angeles International Airport on January 25, 2021.

Just because a country is accepting US travelers doesn’t mean a visit is low-risk. For Americans trying to decide whether to travel or where to go, Lee recommended that fully vaccinated people look at two key metrics: low levels of transmission and case numbers that are declining day over day.

“If you look at Portugal, for example, the incidence is a lot lower than Spain and they’re right next to each other,” Lee said.

On average, Spain is recording nearly 180 daily cases per 1 million people, while Portugal is recording around 45 daily cases per 1 million people. The CDC defines low transmission as fewer than 5 cumulative new cases per 100,000 people over the prior 28 days, and moderate transmission as fewer than 50 cumulative new cases per 100,000 people over 28 days.

If you’re looking to lower your risk of infection, choose less crowded locales where you’re unlikely to bump into people who haven’t been vaccinated. Opt out of large events like concerts or soccer matches, too.

london UK reopening
Outdoor dining in London on April 18, 2021.

“If you’re planning a trip to the countryside, that’s a very different calculus than if you’re planning a trip to the middle of a bustling city,” Lee said.

Of course, outbreaks can also change course quickly, so a country that looks safe now may have high levels of transmission in three months.

“Check the requirements frequently, right up until the departure date, as every country’s policies are going to be changing in response to the way the epidemic evolves,” Lee said.

The website Skyscanner offers real-time updates on countries’ travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. Make sure to prepare the necessary documentation for each country you plan to visit.

“You don’t want to get from one place to another and discover, ‘Oh, whoops, they need this piece of paper or that piece of software and I don’t have that,'” Lee said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The EU adopted a law making tech companies delete ‘terrorist content’ within one hour

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • The European Parliament adopted a law forcing tech firms to immediately remove what authorities deem “terrorist content.”
  • It requires platforms like Facebook and Google to remove the content within an hour of being told to.
  • Some lawmakers and experts warned this could amount to censorship and be difficult to enforce.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The EU has adopted a new, controversial law that requires tech companies to delete what authorities deem “terrorist content” within an hour, or risk a fine.

The European Parliament formally adopted the law on Wednesday even as lawmakers and experts warned that it would not be practical to implement and could harm people’s privacy and free-speech rights.

The law requires companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter to immediately remove content that authorities believe incites terrorism, tries to recruit terrorists, “glorifies terrorist activities,” or gives advice on how to make dangerous items like explosives and firearms.

The law calls on the tech firms to remove the content within an hour of being told to do so by authorities, or the countries could punish them with a fine.

The law is to come into force 12 months after it is published in the EU’s official journal, then adopted by each member state, The Verge reported.

Some parliament members who voted against it said the law could amount to censorship.

Reuters reported that Marcel Kolaja, the vice president of the European Parliament, said: “We really are risking censorship across Europe. Hungarian and Polish governments already demonstrated they have no issues removing content that they disagree with.”

Other parliament members said they worried that the legislation could leave governments free to define what they think terrorism is, and police online content as a result.

And Jacob Berntsson, the head of policy and research at Tech Against Terrorism, told Euractiv: “The one-hour removal deadline will be nigh on impossible for most small platforms to implement effectively.”

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The EU is suing AstraZeneca, saying the drugmaker delayed deliveries of its vaccines

France vaccine AstraZeneca box
A box containing vials of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

  • The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against AstraZeneca.
  • AstraZeneca has delivered far fewer doses to the EU than initially promised.
  • AZ told the EU in January that it had to cut its first-quarter deliveries by 60%, citing supply-chain issues.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The European Commission is suing AstraZeneca, saying the drugmaker delayed deliveries of its COVID-19 vaccines to the bloc.

Stella Kyriakides, the European commissioner for health and food safety, tweeted Monday: “Our priority is to ensure #COVID19 vaccine deliveries take place to protect the health of [Europeans].”

“This is why @EU_Commission has decided jointly with all Member States to bring legal proceedings against AstraZeneca. Every vaccine dose counts. Every vaccine dose saves lives.”

AstraZeneca had delivered far fewer doses to the EU than promised in its contract. In January, the drugmaker told the EU that supply-chain issues meant that it had to cut its first-quarter deliveries by 60%.

Politico first reported on Thursday that the EU was preparing legal proceedings against AstraZeneca on the grounds that it under-delivered COVID-19 vaccines to the bloc.

This is a developing story. Please check back for more updates.

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Fully vaccinated American tourists will be allowed to visit the European Union this summer, The New York Times reports

louvre france tourists
Tourists wait in line to visit the Louvre museum, the world’s most visited museum, in Paris, Wednesday, May, 29, 2019.

  • The European Union will allow vaccinated Americans to visit this summer, a top official told The New York Times.
  • EU and US officials are in talks about methods that could prove tourists’ vaccination status.
  • It would be a change from existing policy that restricts nonessential travel from the US.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The European Union will allow Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to visit Europe this summer, a top official told The New York Times on Sunday.

It would be a change from policies that have been in place for more than a year. In March of 2020, EU leaders restricted most foreign travelers from entering Europe. Even when the bloc’s borders were partially opened in the summer, the US was excluded from that list, as its coronavirus outbreak deemed too risky.

“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU’s executive branch, told The Times. “This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.”

Read more: To fight vaccine hesitancy, make access really, really convenient

All three vaccines authorized for use in the US, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, have been approved by the EU’s drugs regulator.

“All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A.,” von der Leyen said.

The Times reported US and EU officials have been in talks over acceptable vaccine certificates that would allow tourists to prove their vaccination status.

Last month, the EU proposed a vaccine passport system that would allow vaccinated EU citizens to travel more easily within the bloc by summer, Insider’s Marianne Guenot reported.

The EU official did not give The Times a timeline for when it might open for US tourists, noting that it will depend on the coronavirus situation in the US.

Daily coronavirus case numbers remain relatively flat in the US, though some states are seeing a rise, while vaccination rates remain high, with about 3 million people per day on average receiving a shot.

As of Sunday, more than half of all American adults had received at least one vaccine dose, while 36% were fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite being one of the leading nations when it comes to vaccinations, the US could struggle to reach herd immunity, depending on the pace of reopenings and coronavirus variants, Insider’s Aria Bendix reported. Vaccine hesitancy is another obstacle and could make it difficult for the US to keep up its current rate of vaccinations.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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