Today (30 September 2021), G7 transport and health ministers (hereafter ‘the G7 ministers) met to continue discussions started by transport ministers in May on our common objective of the reopening and recovery of international travel from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
G7 ministers reaffirmed the Leaders’ acknowledgement in the Carbis Bay G7 Summit Communique of the importance of achieving a safe and sustainable reopening of international travel by land, sea and air to the global economy, and the vital role of deepened cooperation between G7 transport and health ministries in achieving this.
G7 ministers noted that while we have all had different journeys in tackling the pandemic and different experiences of its impacts on travel. What unites us is our desire to build back better from COVID-19.
The UK acknowledged the global leadership the G7 has shown in reducing the barriers to travel for each other’s citizens, which has been vital in allowing families and friends to reunite and businesses to get moving again.
Ministers also recognised the crucial role and success of vaccinations and testing in reducing these barriers.
Ministers agreed that the G7 must, therefore, use our collective knowledge and experience to ensure we are well equipped to respond to, and quickly recover from, the shared challenges of this and any future pandemics.
As a result of today’s discussions, the G7 Ministers collectively committed to:
- endorse and promote a set of high-level principles that will guide all our nations as we work together to support the recovery of international travel
- share information and lessons learned between transport and health ministries, among the G7 and beyond, to identify common challenges, share solutions and encourage best practice
- create momentum in multilateral fora, such as the upcoming International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) High-level Conference on COVID-19, by promoting these shared principles and through this support global approaches to facilitating international travel
G7 principles for a safe and sustainable reopening of travel
As part of their discussion, G7 transport and health ministers agreed a set of 7 core principles designed to guide G7 and non-G7 partners alike. The G7 ministers committed to these principles as a guide for future policy responses to emerging issues.
Common challenges, common solutions
G7 ministers noted that all our nations have benefitted from learning from the experiences of others and this has been a key tool in allowing us to safely reopen our borders while continuing to protect public health.
The G7 agreed that they would continue to share information on common challenges, such as approaches to global vaccine recognition and efforts to support the sustainable decarbonisation of transport.
In addition, the UK expressed ambition for G7 ministers to work together in promoting international solutions and standards on COVID-19 certification for travel purposes, such as the EU Digital Covid Certificate, and the ICAO visible digital seal (VdS) standard, and encouraged G7 Ministers to ensure interoperability of certification solutions.
The G7 ministers also noted the commitment, made in the G7 health ministers’ statement, to ensure that processes and national certification policies do not disadvantage certain groups.
The UK supported Canada’s emphasis on efforts to recognise the vaccination status of travellers who have received mixed and extended dosage schedules of approved vaccines, based on clear scientific evidence of their safety and efficacy.
The UK also noted the importance of ensuring that participants in vaccine clinical trials are not disadvantaged given the low public health risk they pose and the vital importance of ongoing work to develop effective vaccines.
UK ministers welcomed steps taken to treat participants in regulated vaccine trials as vaccinated for travel purposes and encouraged others to implement the health ministers’ commitment.
The G7 ministers also emphasised the importance of reopening international travel in a way that is safe, fair and sustainable for our citizens and industry. They agreed on the need to ensure the fair treatment of land, air and maritime transport personnel, in particular, by encouraging national governments and agencies’ recognition of these personnel as key workers, in order to reduce additional burdens on transit and enable fair access to vaccinations and emergency medical treatment for these vital workers.
Encouraging a collective global approach
G7 ministers committed to engaging with a wider set of partners and in multilateral fora to promote our common goals through our high-level principles.
Ministers affirmed their support for the work of the ICAO to align travel requirements and help facilitate interoperability of vaccination certificates and applications.
The G7 ministers also noted their desire to reach a collective global agreement on a single vision for aviation recovery, resilience and sustainability beyond the global pandemic at the ICAO High-level Conference on COVID-19 in October.
Looking to the future
The G7 reaffirmed their commitment to work together to prevent and mitigate risks from both the current pandemic and future infectious diseases, to build resilience within the transportation sector and safeguard international travel for the future.
They recognised the importance of continued testing and vaccination in this regard, alongside the need to utilise technological advances in medicine, such as genomic sequencing of a high proportion of positive COVID-19 samples, and supporting international analysis systems in responding rapidly to new variants and future pathogen threats around the world.
The G7 is committed to continuing this dialogue and to deepening cooperation on facilitating the safe and sustainable reopening of international travel.